By Deepak Garcha
Mentorship and start-up capital are two items that can dramatically increase the success of any start up business; I have always known this… but this past summer I saw firsthand how true it really is, especially with the particular demographic of middle and secondary school students.
Last May, SIFE Okanagan partnered with the Kelowna branch of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to launch the first ever BDC SIFE Small Business Incubator Program. This program took a pool of applicants from the Young Entrepreneurship Competition in Kelowna and Vernon and selected four successful teams to participate in the program. The Small Business Incubator Program provided funds and mentorship throughout the summer months to assist these student entrepreneurs in the start up of their small businesses.
The sole purpose of the Small Business Incubator Program was to further the mentorship and support that these students had access to from the Young Entrepreneur Competition and create a new platform on which students can gain further skills and resources to kick start their small businesses.
The types of businesses that were involved in the program were a logo design company, a fiberglass long board manufacturing business, a clothing and printing business, as well as an organic trail mix business. Most teams participating showed a huge amount of personal development as well as growth of their small businesses over the summer months.
Some of the uses that these youth based teams were able to derive from the Small Business Incubator Grant were to purchase environmentally friendly packaging supplies, obtain business licenses, implement a marketing strategies, purchase manufacturing equipment and create new promotional prototypes of their products.
With the enormous support and partnership of the BDC, this program had a positive impact on four youth start up businesses in the Okanagan Valley. As Project Manager of the Small Business Incubator Program, it was very rewarding to watch these individuals (some as young as 12 years old) obtain partnerships, business licenses, make and record revenues as well as utilize ethical and sustainable business practices.
One thing that has become very apparent to me as the Project Manager of the Young Entrepreneur Competition and the Small Business Incubator is that the spirit of small business and entrepreneurial ventures is very much alive and booming among not only adults in the Okanagan Valley, but youth as well!