Fostering support for young Manitoban entrepreneurs

·3 min read

The future holds promise for many of Manitoba’s aspiring entrepreneurs. As of this month, the provincial government has announced funding of $1.2 million over the next four years to help up-and-coming business owners realize their dreams.

Futurpreneur is the non-profit organization responsible for delegating that funding. They offer financing, mentoring, and other support tools to residents between the ages of 18 to 39 who have an entrepreneurial vision in mind.

With a network of 2,600 volunteer mentors from across the country, prospective entrepreneurs will be personally matched with a mentor who can provide advice, support, and encouragement to keep them focused on success. Mentors can also assist in developing business plans and recommend business model refinements.

“Young entrepreneurs drive innovation and help to keep our province competitive in today’s global market,” says Jeff Wharton, Minister of Economic Development, Industry, and Trade. “The support our government is announcing is an investment in Manitoba’s future.”

In 2020, the province first initiated a multi-year funding agreement with Futurpreneur, contributing $250,000 each year to the organization’s operating expenses.

With these funds, and those contributed by a variety of other funding partners, Futurpreneur anticipates providing support for the creation of 50 new local businesses each year.

“With the Manitoba government’s renewed investment in Futurpreneur’s programming, we are poised to make a significant impact on the lives of diverse young entrepreneurs across the province,” says Karen Greve Young, CEO of Futurpreneur. “This partnership will provide the necessary support for these young entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality, build thriving businesses, and contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of their communities throughout the province.”

Futurpreneur is a national charity that’s been around since 1996. Since its inception, almost 18,000 young entrepreneurs have found support through their organization and nearly 14,000 new businesses have been launched.

Among these small businesses, 44 percent are led by women and 26 percent were founded by Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs.

During the pandemic, Futurpreneur Manitoba provided more than $550,000 in cashflow relief to its clients as part of their COVID-19 response measures.

“It takes a community to raise a startup and, in Manitoba, Futurpreneur is at the centre of it,” says Luc Bohunicky, founder and CEO of Avid Golf. “Creating something from nothing requires money, advice, direction, and a slew of resources. Futurpreneur provides it all. As a Manitoban Métis entrepreneur… I’m grateful for the opportunities Futurpreneur has provided and… am driven to be one of many examples to aspiring entrepreneurs of what’s possible.”

Elvin Krahn is a Niverville resident and manager of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Steinbach Branch. For years, the BDC has partnered with Futurpreneur on the financing end of new business assistance.

“Startup business financing can be a challenge for aspiring entrepreneurs,” Krahn says.

Through Futurepreneur, though, up to $20,000 in financing is provided per business. If more is required for startup, Krahn says BDC can provide up to $40,000 more, for a total of $60,000 to help get the new business launched.

“Success stories [include] those that are thinking of a business model, that have limited resources and can scale up their business idea, but just need some guidance,” says Krahn. “Home-based businesses or small or micro businesses could be a [good] fit to explore.”

Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen