PORT AUX BASQUES – The summer months can be a time for rest and relaxation, but at CBDC Gateway in Port Aux Basques, the Youth Ventures program offers a little something extra. The program was designed to help youth between the ages of 12 and 29 turn their passion and ideas into a viable business opportunity, and is a great way for them to hone important life skills.
Rebecca Purchase, Youth Venture Coordinator, said the program runs from May to September each year and that even youth under the age of 12 have the opportunity to get involved.
“We offer business planning, services, idea generation for businesses, marketing, promotions, everything is free of charge to youth and the only criteria to be a part of the program is that you have to be aged 12 to 29,” said Purchase. “A lot of people think it’s just for kids in high school or elementary school, but it goes right up to 29. I have five businesses started, but I have 31 participants. The majority of those participants came from a babysitting cost that I hosted as a way for people to start babysitting businesses.”
Purchase said there is a new program that started this summer.
“It’s called the Venture Box. They are kits containing everything that a youth would need to start up a business and there are five kinds. There’s cake pops, candy kabobs, lip balm, tie dye, and there’s an Indigenous bead work box for Indigenous youth in Newfoundland. Anybody who signs up for these boxes within the region automatically becomes one of my participants and I become their point of contact if they want help starting up their business with the box, or if they just want it for recreational purposes or to play around with it and see if business is for them.”
These boxes are completely free of charge, as are the other aspects of the Youth Venture program. Out of the five businesses started through the program this summer, four of them were original ideas.
“One of them – it wasn’t initially from the venture box – but when they came to me with their idea I said, ‘Oh, I have a venture box that would suit your needs and help you get started out.”
Purchase said the primary business right now is actually her first business to have started this summer and it belongs to Kirsti Sooley.
“Coastal Threads, which is owned by a 24-year-old here in Port Aux Basques, and she is doing super with it. She came to me – she was already started but it was more of a hobby – and she came to me to officially get out there. She needed a business loan and all of that, so I was her segue to CBDC to get the business loan. They have a specific loan program for you, which we work hand in hand with for anybody who needs a loan,” explained Purchase. “She specializes in trendy apparel, accessories, drinkware, and she really targets the youth audience. Everything she does targets younger females. I won’t say everyone is in youth because she does have specialty items in certain holidays that expand her target audience, but she was very successful and was just nominated for two youth venture awards.”
In order to drum up interest for the program, Purchase made presentations in schools along the Southwest Coast and posted information on social media.
“Not only does it reach the youth, but it also reaches the parents. So maybe the youth may not think of it and the parent sees it and they put the bug in their kid's ear.”
Programs like this offer youth the support and confidence they need to turn their dreams into a reality.
“It’s very important for them to know that they have someone behind them at all times who supports them doing something they love. It’s not just about making the money, it’s about being happy with what you do. Our biggest saying is ‘passion with profits’. You take your passion, and you start making money off of it.”
The skills that young entrepreneurs receive while participating in this program are invaluable.
“Just from having the independence from being their own boss, they’re learning about money, about budgeting for cost of supplies so they can make a profit,” said Purchase. “The communication skills, stepping outside of their comfort zone, and I find a big one is maturity. Four out of the five businesses, the kids are still elementary school age. So for them to reach out to me wanting to own their own business, talking to me about what they want – and it’s not their mom or dad talking to me or communicating, they are coming to me themselves – that's a really big life skill.”
Even though the summer months are drawing to a close, anyone who is interested on making their start through the Youth Ventures program can still have that opportunity.
To reach out to Youth Ventures during the off-season, email Robyn Evans at the Provincial Association of CBDCs at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Tyler Osmond, Executive Director at CBDC Gateway via email at email@example.com.
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News