Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Ontario Youth

CEDC Open for Business

CEDC Open for Business

Thunder Bay has Opportunity for Youth Entrepreneurs

THUNDER BAY – Whoever says young people are lazy clearly did not get the Facebook message about Canadian youth entrepreneurship. High youth unemployment in a very competitive job market is driving more young people under the age of 40 to try entrepreneurship on for size, inventing their own employment and creating jobs for others. Ryan Moore is the Youth Programs Coordinator for the Thunder Bay and District Entrepreneur Centre (EC), one of 56 Small Business Enterprise Centres (SBECs) across Ontario that offer training, mentoring, and funding programs specifically for younger entrepreneurs. “We’re seeing record numbers of young people starting businesses. They’re very motivated and engaged, and it’s great to see so many of our youth take this kind of initiative.”

Here’s the low down on the Entrepreneur Centre’s youth programs:

  • Summer Company – Students between the ages of 15 and 29 receive training, education, and mentorship to assist them in running their own businesses over the summer. Successful participants are awarded a grant of up to $3000 for completing the program. All Summer Company participants must return to school in the fall and are not working at a job or going to school more than 12 hours a week during the program.

2013 Summer Company participant Michael Coccimiglio used the grant to buy equipment and boost the advertising of his computer repair business, Tech-No Problems. “I learned a lot from the training sessions and it was great to have the support of the Entrepreneur Centre to help show me how to manage money and other techniques. I also learned from hearing about the other participants’ businesses and benefited from collaborating with them too.”

Youth Entrepreneurship was the scene at Staples Thunder Bay on Wednesday
Youth Entrepreneurship was the scene at Staples in Thunder Bay in the 2014 Summer Company Launch

Summer Company 2015

Summer Company 2015 participants will be showcasing their businesses at the Staples Tradeshow on June 24th from 11-2pm.

  • Starter Company – A four-week program for youth between the ages of 18 and 29 who want to start, expand, or buy a business. Participants receive training, education, and networking opportunities, with the potential of a grant of up to $5000 to start their venture. Applicants also receive one-on-one mentorship for six months upon completion of the program.

The Starter Company program helped successful participant, Carol Kajorinne, get her metalsmithing business off the ground. “It really kickstarted everything and got me involved with the entrepreneurial community. The workshop sessions showed me what resources are out there for us to take advantage of.” Carol and her partner, Kristen Krieven, used their grant to purchase a power hammer, which allows them to quickly move metal, improving cost efficiencies by saving time and energy.

Local metalsmiths, Pike Lake Forge, received a grant of $5000 through Starter Company to start their business. Photo by Elaina Roberts.
Local metalsmiths, Pike Lake Forge, received a grant of $5000 through Starter Company to start their business. Photo by Elaina Roberts.

Pike Lake Forge was also paired up with a mentor as part of Starter Company, who provided guidance and insight; “Our mentor really made a difference for us. If we were unsure of something, like what to expect when crossing the border with imported goods, we could call him and he’d share his experience that would give us confidence and comfort – eliminating the stress.”

Starter Company runs quarterly throughout the year. For more information, visit www.EntrepreneurCentre.ca/StarterCompany or contact Ryan Moore at rmoore@thunderbay.ca or (807)625-3286 to apply.

  • Futurpreneur – Futurpreneur partners with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to provide business loans to entrepreneurs under 39. They also make available great resources, such as the online easy to use business plan writer. Futurpreneur pairs participants with a mentor to learn from, helping them to shorten their learning curve, build confidence, and gain valuable insight and perspective.

Nathan Kushner combined his $15000 Futurpreneur loan with another $15000 matched by BDC to take his custom furniture business to the next level. He was able to purchase a vehicle, top of the line machinery, and expand into a bigger shop space. “The new equipment and extra space allows me to handle multiple projects and take on more clients. I can do the work better and more efficiently.”

Nathan’s business, Industrial Craftsman, has grown drastically since receiving the loans and occasionally speaking with a mentor. To find out if your business qualifies for Futurpreneur’s funding and mentoring opportunities, contact Stacia Kean at skean@thunderbay.ca or (807)625-3972.

Small business success is fundamental to a healthy economy and bright ambitious entrepreneurs are what prosperous cities are made of. The Ontario Government has programs and funding to help young entrepreneurs get the assistance they need to excel. To learn more about the resources available to you and your startup, contact the Thunder Bay and District Entrepreneur Centre (EC) at (807)625-3960 or visit www.EntrepreneurCentre.ca.


CEDC Community Economic Development (CEDC) Entrepreneur Centre
The Summer Company Students had a coaching session to help design their booths.
The Summer Company Students had a coaching session to help design their booths.