Have you heard of the Ontario Summer Company program – the big initiative by the Ontario government to encourage youth entrepreneurship? The one where you are given $3000 just for participating? Unfortunately for most members of the 15-29 year old target market, the answer is a resounding “no” – a true shame for those whom have yet to discover their drive for innovation.
While the problem is awareness, the real tragedy here is that the program itself is fantastic at pushing students into entrepreneurism. Giving enterprising students some start-up capital to pursue a purely theoretical business plan without financial risk to themselves is a very successful motivator. I was fortunate enough to be one of these students over this past summer; an experience that turned out to be one of the most productive summers in my lifetime. So beneficial, in fact, that I felt the need to elicit more awareness for those still trying to find that passion for the future.
The most intriguing thing from my experience was the diversity of backgrounds these potential entrepreneurs came from. In this article, I won’t bog you down with many specific requirements of the program since they are readily available on their website, but I will tell you that none of them require true business background to complete. In fact, out of a group of 9 participants in my area, I was the only one pursuing a business degree or with background business knowledge. And yet each participant was able to gain a unique perspective on their business ideas and succeed in the program regardless of their desired learning path. Across all areas, from those studying philosophy to fine arts to myself in business, the impact of gaining these entrepreneurial skills appealed to each individual in a different way. The businesses themselves all showcased these unique backgrounds as well, from one student running a swimming school to another creating handcrafted jewelry and clothing. If you were ever considering starting a business but felt like you were lacking your own capital, certainly give the Ontario Summer Company program a try. For the entrepreneurs of the future, it is simply one more way to get started.