Entrepreneurship for youth was the focus of Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund’s recent Nishnawbe Kids Business Program at the Landmark Inn in Thunder Bay.
“We’re hoping these programs will bring more awareness of entrepreneurship and businesses to the communities, starting when the kids are young,” said Wendy McKay, NADF’s youth coordinator. “(To) just be more aware that they could choose to go into business if they wanted to. Most kids now think about being a doctor or a lawyer.”
McKay said a group of youth were provided with an opportunity to invent new toys and games during the Feb. 24-25 gathering.
“They’re having so much fun right now,” McKay said. “They’re taking apart toys and making new inventions out of them.”
In addition to participating in a toy fair that showcased their inventions, the youth also took part in a variety of activities, including Create a Logo, Kids Invent Toys, Market Your Thoughts and Be a Business B.
“We did Create a Logo, for Grades 3-6, where kids come up with a business idea, they name that business idea and then design a logo,” said Cindy Reasbeck, youth entrepreneurship advisor for the Northern Ontario Community Futures Development Corporation. “The Grades 7-8 (participated in) Market Your Thoughts, where the kids answer six questions and that creates their first business plan. We’re looking for brainstorming for different ideas and what their passions are and how they could turn that into a potential business.”
Reasbeck said the program’s focus is on innovation and creativity with a link to entrepreneurship.
“So by giving them recycled materials and letting them create a board game they think would work, you’re just sort of always giving them the opportunity to think outside the box and be creative and then turn that into a potential idea,” Reasbeck said. “Kids have great ideas — sometimes it’s a solution to a problem that just sparks an idea. What we want to do at Kids Invent Toys is give them the opportunity to actually create it and then they’ll know in life if they come up with the next big invention, it’s OK and we can make it happen.”
Delivered by NADF in partnership with Northern Claybelt Community Futures Development Corporation, the program also included a train-the-trainer component that provided tools and resources to participating First Nation delegates to facilitate similar programs in their own communities.
“They were able to participate in a lot of the activities they will be bringing back to their communities,” Reasbeck said. “We had a lot of fun doing climbing guy and doing different activities that are all part of giving an experience to kids so they will have the idea in their head that they could start a business if it was of interest to them.”
Nibinamik’s Matthew Sofea is looking forward to helping younger community members with entrepreneurship.
“It will get them motivated and inspired,” Sofea said. “It will benefit the kids in school in my community.”
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