Summer program helps young entrepreneurs

ELORA – The Business Centre Guelph Wellington (BCGW) is supporting nine young entrepreneurs this summer through the Summer Company student entrepreneurship program.

“They’re already producing sales… they’re making it happen,” said BCGW executive director Kristel Manes on the students progress.

The program provides guidance and funding for students ages 15 to 29 starting their own companies.

This year there are nine participants in the Guelph-Wellington program, eight from Guelph and one, Jesse Duhacek, from Elora.

Duhacek has started his own lawn care company called JMD Lawn Care.

“We specialize in lawn maintenance such as lawn mowing and trimming, weeding, and leaf raking. We also do general yard and garden maintenance,” he detailed in an email.

“The experience that Summer Company and the Guelph Business Centre have provided me is truly amazing. Everyone is so helpful, knowledgeable, and are always willing to help you in any way they can.

“I encourage any young entrepreneurs to take part in the program. It really helps you to get started out, and face challenges and problem solve along the way. The whole experience has been incredible.”

In the application process students have to outline their developed business idea and plans, “we want to make sure it’s… ready to go,” said Manes.

The students are provided with $1,500 at the beginning of the summer, as well as regular training and guidance from a business coach.

If the program is continued and the student maintains their business, they’ll receive the remaining $1,500 at the end of the summer.

Manes added that it’s important to support youth.

“I’m glad we can run this program,” she said.

Whether the students continue with their companies past the summer or not, Manes emphasized the program still has benefits.

Having this on a resume for future job applications shows a lot of important work skills, and “it teaches students responsibility,” she said.

A business advisor for the centre Olga George-Cosh detailed some of the challenges the program has faced due to the pandemic.

Originally the centre was anticipating having 11 participants for the program, but due to a number of factors, many pandemic related, there are nine.

She added that one student interested was going to start a business in carpentry, but was discouraged by the price of wood.

“Circumstances were a little bit different,” George-Cosh commented on this year.

“The process was impacted as well,” she said, adding that not as many university students were a part of the program.

Despite these challenges, overall, the centre is happy with this year’s intake.

George-Cosh commented that the students are doing extremely well, especially given the rough school year.

“To have the students being so motivated… it’s surprising.” George-Cosh added that their enthusiasm has kept her motivated as well.