By: Kamal Hylton
What do world-renowned chef/Food Network star Rachel Ray, hip-hop/fashion icon Russell Simmons and tech creator Kevin Rose all have in common? They became self-made people that either never attended college or were college dropouts. I don’t point this out as a way of saying a college education isn’t useful, and there are many people just as successful with a college degree behind them, but it does show that in both business and life there are an increasing number of people stepping away from the traditional path of employment in order to forge their own way to success.
Whether it’s coming up with unique ideas or putting their spin on a tried and true industry, more small businesses are popping up. Just take a look at the tech industry, the entire west coast of the United States has become an entrepreneurial mecca with all the major cities in California as well as Portland and Seattle dominating the small business landscape.
Within Canada, and specifically Ontario, the government has recognized this movement themselves and are flexing its financial muscle through two notable programs in order to foster this growth. I recently had a chance to speak with Roshani Raj, Youth Entrepreneurship Representative at the Brampton Entrepreneurship Centre, who explains the two programs and their ultimate goal.
“The City of Brampton administers two provincially funded grant programs geared towards youth with the goal of creating sustainable local businesses in the years to come. There’s the Summer Company program for students (up to $3000 of funding) and the Starter Company program for mature clientele (up to $5000 of funding).”
Digging deeper into the topic of entrepreneurship and being self-made, the reason for this rising trend goes beyond making millions and has much more to do with creating roots and a long lasting legacy. There’s a positive rebellion building in today’s society against answering to authority and is found most prominently when looking at the job market, an aspect of these government programs that is quite common according to Raj.
“I interact with youth day in and day out. With a lot of them I do see the spirit of not wanting to adhere to conventional norms, making references to people like Steve Jobs and others that didn’t complete a formal education. This isn’t to denounce education in any way, I feel it’s very important, but the mindset of youth is changing towards building unique career paths and not going with the typical 9 to 5 job. I feel many youth are very creative, want to be innovative and live life on their own terms rather than being measured against or answering to someone else.”
After speaking with professionals and young business owners about these programs, I ultimately believe the investment the government is putting into the area self employment is smart on multiple fronts. It helps boost the local economy with local goods and services, gives people more control in a more open job market and most importantly shows that as these programs prove themselves successful more young people will consider entrepreneurship.