Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
York Region is helping students turn their skills and hobbies into money-making ventures.
For over a decade, in partnership with the Government of Ontario, the York Small Business Enterprise Centre (YSBEC) has been delivering the Summer Company program.
The program is designed to foster and develop the entrepreneurial spirit among youth by “guiding them through the entire process of starting a business,” says Charles Banfield, manager of strategic economic initiatives for York Region.
Students between the ages of 15 and 29 who registered to return to school full-time the following September are eligible to apply.
The program “helps students learn critical skills such as financial management, networking, and creating a detailed business plan,” he adds.
It offers training, mentoring, and a grant of up to $3,000 to support the students in maximizing the success of their business concepts.
Stouffville resident Emily Kyvrikoseos, aged 17, owner of Emily’s Mobile Photography, is one of nine participants in this year’s Summer Company program.
Her love of photography began with a high school course, and she saw the Summer Company program as an ideal opportunity to turn it into something bigger.
Her business concept is mobile photography specializing in photos of houses and spaces for real estate purposes.
Grant money provided through the program allowed her to purchase a camera, lens, and equipment, plus cover all advertising and operating expenses such as insurance.
“The team and mentors have taught me so much as I initially didn’t know where to begin with so much to do,” she said, adding that “I can confidently say I will use their advice to help expand my business.”
Kyvrikoseos credits her mentor with teaching her “amazing” photography and business tips.
“I am so happy to be part of the program and to have had such an amazing opportunity not only to start a business but to learn so much valuable Information that I can apply to many aspects in my life.”
Kyvrikoseos will be attending Durham College in the fall to study pre-health studies with thoughts of pursuing a career as an anesthesiologist.
YSBEC is a “one-stop shop” to help individuals start and grow their businesses.
The centre offers training, business plan development, mentoring, and advisory services to help businesses and their owners succeed.
Whether starting out or looking to grow an existing venture, the YSBEC is available to provide the necessary tools.
The Summer Company program will return in 2023, with applications opening early next year.
Visit yorklink.ca/summercompany for York Region information and ontario.ca/document/summer-company-yearbook to look at past Summer Company participants throughout Ontario and their business ventures.
Photo: Emily Kyvrikoseos turned her love of photography into a business, Emily’s Mobile Photography, thanks to support from the Summer Company program at YSBEC. (credit: York Region)