The global economic downturn hit St. Thomas hard. But students at The University of Western Ontario are hoping to give youth in the area a way to earn money that isn’t dependant on unpredictable markets.
Members of the Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) club, Vikas Sharma, Andrew Kinsella, Karen Lai, Thomas Fitzmaurice and club president Michael Hofweller, are teaching high school students in St. Thomas how to become Entrepreneurs in Action.”
In honour of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a team of students from the Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) club will be heading to the neighbouring community to show high school students how to become entrepreneurs through a program “Entrepreneurs in Action.”
“I know how hard-hit the area was by the depression,” says Andrew Kinsella, a St. Thomas resident and Western student. “It created a very hostile environment, especially for students, because you had people who had experience in the regular workforce going out and looking for minimum-wage jobs that traditionally would be for students.
“By giving them another option through entrepreneurship, I’m hoping to give back to the community and possibly get jobs out there for kids who might not otherwise be able to get them.”
Global Entrepreneurship Week is a worldwide movement held Nov. 15-21 involving more than 100 countries to inspire people to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity.
On Nov. 15, Western students travelled to St. Thomas for the first of five seminars for students from Parkside Collegiate Institute, Arthur Voaden Secondary School, Central Elgin Collegiate Institute and St Joseph’s Catholic High School.
“In St. Thomas there hasn’t been too much in terms of student entrepreneurship opportunities,” says Kinsella, SIFE Western project manager.
During the course of the project, youth participants will learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur, how to write a business plan and engage in a business plan competition. The winner of that competition receives $3,000, along with ongoing support from SIFE to help implement the plan.
“It’s a very blue-collar town and I just want to promote the fact that business doesn’t necessarily have to be about going to a big company and becoming a white-collar worker,” Kinsella says.
Young entrepreneurs can get their hands dirty, but also learn financial skills and business strategies to help theirs plans succeed, and learn life lessons along the way, he adds. “You can create so many unique opportunities through entrepreneurship.”
To learn more about Global Entrepreneurship Week, visit unleashingideas.org