Wanted: young entrepreneurs; CYBF holds roundtables across nation

Canada needs more young entrepreneurs to start new businesses, provide jobs to young people, take over existing businesses from retiring owners and provide services to a growing economy, according to Julia Deans, CEO of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF). To that end, the CYBF is holding a series of roundtable discussions around the country to increase the number of young people who view entrepreneurship as a career path, like the professions, skilled trades and management.

“Each roundtable is about half young entrepreneurs; the other half are from government, not-for-profits, academia and business. We’re trying to bring their thinking together around how to expand youth entrepreneurship across Canada,’ Dean said during a break in the half-day session at the University of Regina on Tuesday. The Regina roundtable was the eighth out of 10 to be held this year, with a national summit to be held in Toronto in May.

Youth entrepreneurship does two things, said Deans, who joined CYBF as CEO in January 2013 after having a successful law career, starting her own business in Singapore and heading up numerous non-governmental organizations. “One is helping young people find meaningful work; the other half is helping young people realize their dreams. And if they do that, they create businesses, they create jobs for other people and they create healthy government revenues to help everybody else.’ Deans said the roundtables are focusing on four topics that are critical to the success of young entrepreneurs. “The first is mindset. How do we help young people think about entrepreneurship as a viable career path? The second is skills. How do they get the financial literacy, sales and marketing and other skills to run their own businesses? The third is resources. That’s money, but it’s also things like mentorship. The fourth is markets. Once they’ve started a business, how do we help grow their business within their community, across the country or internationally?” Deans added that government, business and academe also have a stake in the success of young entrepreneurs. “There are a lot of people who want young entrepreneurs to succeed. And if we actually start thinking about what the highest priorities are and come together to make them happen, we’ll have a lot better results.”

Business can provide mentors, like Brennan Turner, president of FarmLead, a Saskatoon-based online grain marketing service, who took part in the Regina session.

A native of Foam Lake, Turner graduated from Athol Murray College of Notre Dame at Wilcox and Yale University, playing hockey at both institutions. A fifth-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005, Turner played in European and American hockey leagues from 2007 to 2011. He also worked on Wall Street.

“I had the farmer mentality, you work hard, you get there early and you work late,’ Turner said. “The goal was to show you can work hard and be an asset to the team, just like you would on any hockey team.’ But when the government got rid of the Canadian

Wheat Board’s monopoly on wheat and barley sales in 2012, Turner saw an opportunity to come back to Saskatchewan and provide a service to farmers. “I had the idea of a more efficient way (for farmers) … to sell their grain. How do you find that market that’s going to give you the best return on your labour? How much time are you going spend to get an extra 10 or 15 cents a bushel?” That’s the idea behind Far mLead.com, North America’s first online and mobile grain marketplace. “We’re trying to bring technology to the farm. I like to call it e-farm commerce … You can actually transact deals from your tractor.” bjohnstone@leaderpost.com

The Leader-Post | Regina, Saskatchewan