Program ‘set new benchmark’ for entrepreneurship

One student taught swimming lessons, another created a pen pal program and still another taught basketball to disenfranchised children.

Those are among the ventures established and operated by young entrepreneurs this summer as part of the Summer Company Program.

The York Small Business Enterprise Centre (YSBEC) delivers the annual Summer Company program in York Region in partnership with the provincial government. The program is designed to foster and develop the entrepreneurial spirit in students ages 15 to 29 years who are registered to return to school in the fall.

“This year, our program has set a new benchmark for youth entrepreneurship in York Region,” says YSBEC Small Business Consultant Ammar Rizvi. “The dedication, creativity and passion of our 2023 participants has exceeded our expectations.”

Kathleen Stawski | YSBEC

This year’s Summer Company operators included Kathleen Stawski, who established and operated Little Fishies Swimming School. Michael Wang created Smiles Across Borders, a not-for-profit pen pal program between Canadian and Kenyan high school students that allowed students to earn community service hours. Santhosh Rajmohan established and operated AET Basketball Association, a not-for-profit company that taught basketball to disenfranchised children. Noah Savage operated Grime Stoppers.

Applicants to the program must submit an application that includes a business plan and cash flow projection. Those who meet program requirements are invited for an interview with the program provider. Successful applicants receive an award of up to $3,000, with the first payment of up to $1,500 covering start-up costs. They receive a second payment of up to $1,500 upon successful program completion.

Participants receive hands-on coaching and mentoring from business leaders in their community and their program provider. They must maintain appropriate business records of income and expenditures, including receipts. They keep any profits their business generates.

Main photo (L-R): Noah Savage of Grime Stoppers, Ammar Rizvi of the York Small Business Enterprise Centre (YSBEC) and Michael Wang of Smiles Across the Border. Photo courtesy of the YSBEC.

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