BDC Pledges $150,000 over a three-year term to support Students In Free Enterprise

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Canadian MoneyTHUNDER BAY – Encouraging young entrepreneurs is a way of boosting economic development, and ensuring the future is brighter. Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE) students are helping to fuel Canada’s economic and entrepreneurial engine and are getting support through a partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

As part of a new commitment, BDC has pledged $150,000 over a three-year term to support Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), a team program operated by ACE. The partnership has been improved by the development and launch of a grant program that empowers student teams with the skills and resources to make a meaningful difference in their communities through entrepreneurship.

BDC SIFE Entrepreneurs First! Project Fund has awarded six grants of $2,500 to six SIFE teams to develop and implement projects that serve to accelerate the success of Canadian entrepreneurs. Teams are also assigned a local BDC project advisor to help support their efforts.

The schools participating in this year’s BDC SIFE Entrepreneurs First! Project Fund include Brandon University (Brandon, Manitoba), Concordia University (Montreal, Québec), Lakehead University (Thunder Bay, Ontario), Okanagan College (Kelowna, British Columbia), Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, Nova Scotia) and the University of Windsor (Windsor, Ontario).

“As part of our commitment to entrepreneurship, we recognize the importance of promoting business education and creating opportunities for future entrepreneurs,” says Michel Bergeron, Vice President, Corporate Relations at BDC. “BDC is proud to partner with ACE and SIFE to encourage student involvement in local communities. SIFE projects target students at an age when they start to think about career choices. This is an ideal time to discover that being entrepreneurial in tackling social and business challenges can be a very valuable and rewarding experience.”

Projects are based on specific needs identified by the students in each community. Initiatives include: providing skills and confidence to new immigrants to start entrepreneurial ventures; kick starting struggling small businesses to encourage growth and prosperity; tackling local unemployment issues with skills diversification; and, promoting sustainable entrepreneurship in depressed aboriginal areas.

“BDC is a natural fit for ACE because we both share a passion for encouraging communities to find unique, entrepreneurial solutions to everyday economic problems,” says Amy Harder, President of ACE. “The students involved with our program are making a difference by improving the livelihood of others while becoming stronger individuals themselves.”

Teams will present the outcomes of their projects as part of their overall entrepreneurship program at upcoming regional and national competitions taking place throughout Canada in March and May 2012.