Ontario job grants promote self-employment

Student entrepreneurs participating in the Humber Launch competition may be eligible for support through the Ontario Youth Job Strategy | courtesy Humber Launch Student entrepreneurs participating in the Humber Launch competition may be eligible for support through the Ontario Youth Job Strategy | courtesy Humber Launch

Celia Grimbly
News reporter

The Ontario government is trying to reduce some of the stress students face when involved in a job-hunting process.

The Strategic Community Entrepreneurship Project (SCEP), launched at the beginning of April, and Summer Company, part of the province’s Youth Job Strategy, offer youth and students 15-29 years old opportunities to be their own boss and start their own business.

The programs help youth not only create jobs for themselves but also potential jobs for other students. The Youth Jobs Strategy has created over 10, 000 jobs to date.

SCEP and Summer Company provide training and funding to assist in the development of businesses. They also introduce students to these types of resources, said Tony Gifford, entrepreneurship advisor for The Business School at Humber.

“They’ve made a real effort as a government and as a public service to give opportunities to help young people in some ways gain employment or create employment,” Gifford said.

He and other faculty work with programs to encourage students to participate.

“For the first time we’ve been asked to partner with an existing delivery agent, which is called the

Toronto Business Development Centre, and they’ve identified Humber as a really good source of students who can fulfil and get involved in the Summer Company program,” Gifford said.

Joe Esposito, TBDC, business adviser said the number of spots available increased to 35 from 20 last year.

The Summer Company program is accepting applications for a total of 850 awards, up from the 661 awards given to students last summer.

Most students accepted into the program receive the maximum amount of funding, which is $3,000 if they complete the Summer Company program, said Esposito, there’s also no application fees.

The SCEP program, unlike Summer Company, is available to youth not in school, specifically those from “high-needs communities and vulnerable populations,” according to a press release.
SCEP service providers  will receive $6 million from the province to support youth starting not-for-profit organizations, the press release stated.

For organizations meeting certain criteria, there are no costs to apply for funding.

“In terms of receiving SCEP funding, an organization must be not-for-profit and must have experience working with vulnerable populations and/or high-needs communities,” such as racialized and Aboriginal youth, youth in care, at risk, or new to the country, youth with disabilities or special needs and youth in low income families said Brigitte Marleau, spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

The SCEP program has a lot of resources vital for success.

“Young people in the SCEP program can have access to training programs, mentorship networks, supports such as help with transportation, paid mentors and counselors and micro-financing to start a business,” said Marleau.

Cheryl Mitchell, program manager at Humber Launch, one of the college’s funding competitions for entrepreneurs, said common weaknesses among young entrepreneurs is they don’t have a revenue strategy, revenue plan or a marketing strategy.

“As a [Summer Company] provider, we work with the students who have been accepted to run them through mentorship programs and run them through sessions on marketing, finance, etc.,” said Esposito.

“[Students and youth] get the advantage of working with really good mentors and facilitators and get identified by the ministry as entrepreneurs. It’s a fantastic thing to put on your resume, so it validates you as a potential employee,” Gifford said.