The biggest growth in Canada’s economy, productivity and job creation is through its small and medium sized companies—or SMEs.
Given that Canada’s population is aging, and that a substantial number of today’s older and experienced entrepreneurs will soon be retiring or simply departing from their entrepreneurial journey, to maintain this economic growth and prosperity curve it becomes increasingly important for Canada’s youth to fill and enhance this projected entrepreneurial void.
Since 1996, the statistics tell us that young entrepreneurs in all categories of new venture creation have been entering the marketplace at three times the rate per year of entrepreneurs over the age of 45.
Pretty significant, I would say, and a spotlight on where from a society and government perspective we must focus our economic future.
Youth entrepreneurs are found in every sector of the Canadian economy. About 20 per cent operate in the goods producing area and 73 per cent are found in the service sector, mainly wholesale/retail, professional services and other.
And, I have discovered nearly everywhere I have travelled in Canada is that young entrepreneurs are seemingly quite unique is their proportionately higher presence in the knowledge-based industries.
Take a walk around Okanagan Research and Innovation Centre on St. Paul Street in Kelowna and view the young folk who are so talented with their electronic tools.
Complementary to that factor is that young entrepreneurs tend to also be engaged in research and development activities when operating an innovative entrepreneurial venture.
Apparently, ventures owned by young entrepreneurs are typically more likely to be high growth and, for the most part, are financially viable, perhaps due to the educated, dynamic and focused people at the helm of such businesses.
Young entrepreneurs are also likely to identify access to financing as an obstacle to initially launch their business and then for increased growth.
Some of the barriers to financing include limited credit history (no surprise) and much fewer assets to pledge as requested collateral.
Additionally, many people have shared with me that small start-up firms are normally less established in their sector of operation and have fewer years hence in management experience.
This invariably contributes to higher than average use of informal financing arrangements such as utilizing personal savings and obtaining and absorbing funds from family, friends and other close connections.
Our Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society was established to contribute to the development of entrepreneurial leaders.
Now, the society has been designated as a community partner by the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to deliver its loan program for young entrepreneurial start-ups. CYBF is a national charitable non-profit foundation dedicated to championing tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
Why? Because our future depends on creating new businesses to fill the economic gap felt as many small business owners retire, to drive innovation, create new jobs and support Canada’s overall economic prosperity.
CYBF does this by investing time and money in aspiring young entrepreneurs age 18 to 34, who have a good business idea, but who may find it difficult to obtain financing or mentoring through traditional sources.
CYBF delivers its program nationally through a collaborative network of like-minded organizations such as our entrepreneurs society, Community Futures, municipal committees, post-secondary institutions, etc.
Why our society feels so proud to be part of this wonderful young entrepreneur start-up tool is that the CYBF program has four fully integrated components that are built around the lifecycle of any young entrepreneur beginning their journey.
Let me share these with you now:
A) Pre-Coach Launching—Everyone needs a coach in some way shape or form. To address this need, CYBF offers a free Pre-Launch Coaching program tool to fill this important need. Through the hands-on personal guidance of a seasoned “entrepreneur in residence,” CYBF provides budding entrepreneurs with help in a wide range of topical needs.
B) Online Business Resources—CYBF also offers a robust online Business Resource Centre to service the needs of inquiring entrepreneurs. mentors, community partners and members of our Okanagan CYBF loan review committee.
C) Financing up to $55,000—A biggy in the program as money is the lifeline in any venture. CYBF provides start-up financing based on personal character and a great business idea of up to $15,000 with flexible three to five year repayment schedules and no principal payments in year one. Further, the Business Development Bank (BDC) has teamed up with CYBF to provide an additional $ 30,000 to get their ventures off the ground. Then CYBF we kick in expansion financing of up to $10,000 for existing CYBF entrepreneurs. Not bad for a young entrepreneur’s beginning.
D) World-Class Mentoring—This element is perhaps one of the most important features of the CYBF program that has gained international attention. CYBF’s qualified dedicated business mentors bring their years of experience to our young CYBF entrepreneurs , encouraging them, sharing their knowledge and celebrating their successes of up to two years to ensure they have solid support during the critical start-up phase of their venture.
This information is an avenue to prompt a flood of new young entrepreneurs into our region and our society.
Anyone may learn more of this funding source through our society and/or www. CYBF.ca.
I would like to close my column this week with these words.
Canadians need to better understand the vital importance of entrepreneurship and small business ownership to our economy.
We also need to work more closely together with governments, corporations and educational institutions to not only build a culture of entrepreneurship throughout our region, province and nation, but to build a system that promotes and supports entrepreneurship as a viable career choice.
Let’s do this together!
Joel Young is an entrepreneurial leadership coach, consultant and educator and the Founder of Okanogan Valley Entrepreneurs Society