Pilot Project Hopes to Prep Aboriginal Youth for Business
l-r Jan Bell-Irving Junior Achievement BC, Geri Collins Community Futures Dev.Corp for Central Int. First Nations, Minister Shirley Bond, Edith Frederick Lheidli T’enneh, and in the back row, business owner Jordan Low and Solicitor General Mike Morris
Prince George, B.C. – Small business is the heart the BC economy says Minister of Jobs Tourism and Skills Development Shirley Bond “98% of businesses in B.C. are small, whether it’s 2 or 5 or ten employees, they are at the heart of the economy, so we want to make sure that young people today have a great sense of entrepreneurship in our province and we want to make sure they have the opportunity to participate.”
Small business generates one third of BC’s GDP and employs more than one million British Columbians in nearly every sector and today, the Province has announced a partnership with Junior Achievement B.C. the Community Futures Development Corporation of the Central Interior First Nations and the Aboriginal Business Services Network to help First Nations youth on the road to entrepreneurship.
The B.C. Small Business Roundtable is providing $34 thousand to Junior Achievement BC for a pilot project that will introduce Aboriginal youth to inspire and prepare Aboriginal youth to start a business of their own. The pilot project will be offered to 30 youth in eight communities, Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna, Neskonlith, Ft. St. John, Moberly Lake, Cranbrook and Tsilhqot’in-Williams Lake.
“Partnerships like this, are about empowering First Nations youth to be engaged in a key and critical economic role” says Minister Bond. The pilot project will start in October and run through 2017.
“This project is an important step in B.C. to reach our goal of increasing employment by Aboriginal people by 15 thousand people by the year 2024″ says Bond. ” I think it’s about making sure young people have the skill set should they want to become business owners. I think ultimately the measurable ( of the pilot’s success) will be how many of them actually go one to start a small business in our province, or be engaged in the business world in some way.” Bond says First Nations are under represented in many areas of the work force. “This is about giving them the skill set that they require following it up and making sure that if they are interested, they have the supports in place to be successful.”
Jordan Low is Metis and a graduate of the Junior Achievement program, and the former Spruce Kings Hockey Player is now co-owner of a successful business in Prince George. As co-owner of the franchise “Fresh Slice Pizza” Jordan says he was amazed at how much he still had to learn when launching that business. He says with a lot of hard work, they launched a franchise which has become the top producer in that chain “Going through the process, I now realize how much I didn’t know about business, but having a good business plan and being aware of everything is really important. I really think this program is really important, it’s really going to open young entrepreneurs eyes and change their mindset on what’s available to them.”