Chris Rickett & Hamoon Ekhtiari

Whether it’s the result of a persistently high youth unemployment rates, a zest for entrepreneurship or both, young people are increasingly looking to start their own businesses.

In fact, nearly half of Canadian students see themselves starting a business after graduation, according to a Bank of Montreal survey.

Here are three resources and tools that young entrepreneurs should turn to before kicking off their own ventures:

1. Follow your passion. There are a growing number of opportunities for young people to both pursue what makes them come alive and work on what matters to the world. CityStudio VancouverSt. Paul’s GreenHouse in Waterloo, 21inc in New Brunswick and Studio Y in Toronto are just a few of those examples. Note that if you’re interested in applying for Studio Y, the next call for applications opens on February 9.

2. Determine what resources are right for you. For those still in high school or university who are looking to test their mettle and start their first company, the province of Ontario offers the Summer Company Program which provides training, mentoring and a $3,000 grant for students looking to start a summer business.

Under the Ontario government’s Youth Jobs Strategy, $45-million was dedicated to entrepreneurship, and this has resulted in a range of new campus-based business incubators and accelerators to support students with their ventures.

For those no longer in school and under 30, there is also the Starter Company Program. Aimed at helping young people create their own job, the program provides training, mentoring and a $5,000 grant to help young entrepreneurs in launching their company.

3. Acquire funding. Getting started is the first step, but getting financing to grow is just as important. And, while there will always be a call for increased access to capital for new ventures, organizations like Futurpreneur, the Business Development Bank of CanadaMaRS’ Youth Business Acceleration Program, the province-wide Campus Linked Accelerators (CLA), and the Ontario government’s SmartStart Seed Fund are a few resources available for young people.

So, while the job market is tough, there are young people making opportunities for themselves – our only hope is that by accessing the various resources available to them, these young entrepreneurs can build successful businesses that employ their peers and generate not only tax revenues, but also address broader societal challenges.

For more information on Action Entrepreneurship, click here. 

Chris Rickett is the manager of entrepreneurship services with the City of Toronto, where he works with a dedicated team focused on helping entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

Hamoon Ekhtiari is the director of Studio Y at MaRS Discovery District, Canada’s largest innovation hub, with a focus on developing young leaders and innovators for the world.

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