NB PROGRAMS ENCOURAGE YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP

June 10, 2012 | by: Heather Boyd-Kinnie

POSTED BY START-UP CANADA ON JUNE 10, 2012

New Brunswick Programs To Encourage More Youth To Explore Entrepreneurship

Fredericton, NB (Monday, June 11, 2012) – Building a stronger entrepreneurial culture in New Brunswick means building programs that support the next generation of startup founders, said youth and community leaders during Startup Canada’s New Brunswick visit last week.

One of those programs is a new collaboration between Startup Canada, the New Brunswick Business Council, the Pond-Deshpande Centre, and the Wallace McCain Institute to assess the state of entrepreneurship at local post-secondary institutions. University Enterprise Audits, a process developed and introduced by Startup Canada co-founder Victoria Lennox, will catalogue current activities and map ways to enhance the entrepreneurial culture, events, policies and support available on New Brunswick campuses.

“In New Brunswick, we are developing some of the world’s leading models in advancing entrepreneurship,” said Nancy Mathis, Executive Director of the Wallace McCain Institute. “The University Enterprise Audits is a means of tracking those activities and is a starting point for universities and colleges to benchmark their own contribution to the provincial entrepreneurial culture and community.”

Many New Brunswick universities and colleges currently have faculty and students engaged in successful entrepreneurial ventures, entrepreneurship programs, and entrepreneur-focused clubs, courses, mentorships, and internships.

“The audits will allow us to benchmark ourselves against leading global practices and identify areas we can build upon,” said Jenelle Sobey, Partner Relations Manager with the New Brunswick Business Council.

The theme of youth engagement continued in Fredericton, as Karina LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Pond-Deshpande Centre, introduced Startup Canada to its new Student Ambassador Program, set to launch across the province this fall.

“Ambassadors will form a unique club of aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs in the region, who represent the programming and events of the Pond-Desphande Centre within their schools and faculties,” said LeBlanc. ”This is an exciting opportunity for emerging entrepreneurs to be part of a program that offers them mentorship, connections and funding so early in their careers.”

Moncton’s Startup Canada events also looked at youth-geared entrepreneurship, but at an earlier stage than university. Nearly 100 high school students from area schools gathered for an interactive panel and breakout group activities to learn more about the opportunities behind entrepreneurship and how they can get started on an entrepreneurial career path.

“It was great seeing the students interacting with the local entrepreneurs,”
said Sally Ng, Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator with Tech South East. “It helps them get connected to a mentor that could really help them in the future.”

The Moncton event provided some valuable youth insight into what students feel is needed to support the next generation of new business owners. Students said they want more experiential learning opportunities, co-op placements in start-ups and small firms, and more curricular options to learn about finances, sales and marketing. They’d also like to see more entrepreneurs their own age showcased in media and celebrated as success stories.

Startup Canada’s events in Bathurst and Saint John were not as youth-focused, but still lent their own unique takes on how to cultivate a stronger entrepreneurial culture in the province.

Bathurst held two Town Halls, one in partnership with the Wallace McCain Institute and the other with the Greater Bathurst Chamber of Commerce, Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) Chaleaur, and Enterprise Chaleaur. The first Town Hall echoed themes heard in earlier tour stops, such as the needs for easy access to support; mentorship; skills, training and education; connecting with talent; network building; and industry-led entrepreneur support. The second town hall identified entrepreneurship as key to northern development and highlighted the importance of creating a central co-working space for entrepreneurs to convene and collaborate.

The Saint John’s community came up with some creative approaches to delivering on tried and true solutions to streamlining support networks, improving community advertising, developing co-work spaces, and building customer loyalty for local businesses.

Since launching its National Tour in March, the Startup Canada team has visited five provinces and 18 cities. The team wrapped up events in Alberta on Saturday and will be kicking off next in Manitoba for events from June 11 – 14.

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