The Road to Business Start-up with SEA (Self Employment Assistance)

As a Business Start-up Advisor with NLOWE, I see a lot of people who are interested in starting a business and like to apply for SEA (Self Employment Assistance). SEA offers a great opportunity for an aspiring entrepreneur to earn a wage while starting a business, but before applying, it is important that you understand the process and requirements needed for approval.  NLOWE’s Business Start-up Advisors are here to help you do just that!

The first requirement for receiving SEA is that you have to be E.I. eligible, meaning that you have collected E.I. in the last three years or collected maternity benefits in the last five years and you must not have a job to return to. So for instance, if you are on maternity leave and wish to start your own business instead of returning to your previous position, then you wouldn’t qualify for SEA.

The second requirement is that you have to have a competitive edge, meaning that you have to start a business that is unique or different to what is already in operation or you have to prove that the market can sustain another business of this type. To do this you would need to complete and submit a business plan along with a SEA application form, a completed business information summary, proof of E.I. Eligibility, and proof of a 25% contribution, which typically can be a snapshot of your savings or line of credit. They need to see that you are willing to invest financially in your new venture. In addition, you will need to provide an updated resume. NLOWE Business Start-up Advisors will assist you in making sure that you have completed the application to the best of your ability and then we will complete a letter of support to accompany the application to AES (Department of Advanced Education and Skills). We will also complete a return to work action plan that may or may not accompany the application. This document is only sometimes requested.

You have two options when applying for SEA; you can apply for 10 weeks assistance, in which case, if you are approved, you will have 10 weeks to complete the business plan, then upon submitting the business plan you could be potentially approved for 42 weeks to begin and run your business. The other option is to apply for 52 weeks, which, if approved, will give you 52 weeks of E.I. to assist with the first year of business and the associated start-up costs. With either option, you cannot start your business until approved by AES. You can get ready to market (develop logo, business cards, website, etc.) but you can’t promote your business in any way or it will disqualify you from the program. You can have business permits, licenses, business numbers, location, etc. in place but you can’t sell or promote your service or product in any way until approved by AES. If you are not approved by AES you have the option to appeal the decision or you can choose to open the business without SEA or you may decide to find a new path to follow.

Clients who have been successful in obtaining SEA have benefitted from less financial strain associated with starting a business. The SEA program allows them to build the business, conduct marketing and promote the business, while giving a little financial security.

If you are unsure if you would qualify or would like more information on the SEA program please contact the NLOWE Business Start-up Advisor in your area.

Tammy Hapgood is NLOWE’s Business Start-up Advisor for the Avalon Region. If you are interested in starting a business and would like to know more about how NLOWE can help, call Tammy at 1.888.NLOWE.11 ext. 227 or email her at  For more information about NLOWE, visit us online at or check out our Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or YouTube pages.


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