Plans to succeed
By Ed Stack
During a time of sagging employment opportunities in a tough job market, more students then ever want to be their own boss and Carleton University is involved in a plan to make this easier for them.
The university is currently involved in an ambitious initiative to help students make small business ownership a reality, said Luc Lalonde, technology transfer officer for Carleton. He has developed Carleton's newest plan designed to complement a new entrepreneurship initiative known as MentorTech.
The program is aimed at bringing students and members of the professional community together to share ideas. "Students love to get good business advice about accounting systems, legal services and effective marketing," Lalonde said. He added one-on-one contact with seasoned professionals will certainly benefit students.
MentorTech, funded by the provincial government, is designed to provide students with assistance in starting a business. The program, already in place at six Ontario universities, consists of a series of seminars in a classroom setting, Lalonde said.
The student development centre at Western has focused on maintaining a system of technology-based delivery of employment services via the Internet Café, said Sharon Lee, coordinator of employment services at the centre.
"With regard to services, every university has a different culture. Western is too large to deliver services regarding entrepreneurship in person," Lee said.
While there have not been many requests for seminars on starting a small business, any inquiries are referred to the London Community Small Business Centre, Lee said.
Vali Parolin-Love, youth business coordinator at LCSBC, said the organization provides evening seminars on various topics concerning entrepreneurship such as starting, operating and financing small businesses, creating effective marketing campaigns and buying franchises.
"Financing in the form of loans up to $15,000 are available to full-time ventures, provided the individual demonstrates suitable experience, training or education," Parolin-Love said.
Western's Richard Ivey School of Business provides specialized training for students interested in all types of business, including entrepreneurship. "We are putting the pieces in place that will allow a student to develop an idea, put together a business plan and start the business," said professor David Shaw, director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Growth at the business school.
All students enrolled in the Business Administration 257 course must complete a comprehensive group project involving the development of a small business, he added.
Carol Fuller, course coordinator for Business Administration 257, said several projects have been developed into actual companies. College Pro Painters was originally created by Western business students as a feasibility study and has since developed into a large company with over 600 operations in Canada, she said.