Indigenous youth challenge targets Commerce, Culture Community

Alberni Valley participants sought for January entrepreneurship program

How would you grow $1,000 to benefit your community?

The BC Indigenous Youth 3C Challenge brings together local youth with facilitators and mentors from the business community to explore business ideas, share practical skills and build excitement around the possibilities of entrepreneurship.

Hosted by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, the two-part program begins with a three-day workshop at the Port Alberni Friendship Centre, from Jan. 3 to 5, followed by a month-long Challenge.

One of six 3C sessions running in BC in January, the Challenge welcomes 20 Indigenous youth between the ages of 15 and 29, including Status, non-Status, Metis and Inuit youth, explains 3C Project Manager Jennifer Ambers.

Over the course of the 2 1/2-year project, Ambers hopes to engage with 1,000 Indigenous BC youth with the 3Cs – community, culture and commerce.

Here’s what happens:

  • During the fun, three-day business workshop, participants will work together with facilitators and mentors to explore areas of interest, then separate into teams to share ideas and create a business plan to market their product or service, assisted by their $1,000 micro-loan.
  • The facilitation team and mentor will work with the youth throughout the workshop. The mentor will continue to support the teams during the following challenge, meeting with each participant individually before working with the team to help develop a workable concept and business plan. “The mentor is a vital component to the program – working with the youth every step of the way,” Ambrose says.
  • During the challenge, the team will follow their plan, establishing a budget, accessing materials and pursuing markets.
  • Participants receive an iPad to work with during the workshop and challenge; if they complete both, it’s theirs to keep.

The 3Cs initiative, which started with pilot projects in Terrace and Port Hardy, has already engaged a tremendous group of youth who demonstrated the program’s potential.

Inspired with a great idea and their $1,000 micro loan, a Terrace team created bath bombs infused with Devil’s Club. With a solid business plan and a clear deliverable, the team paid back their $1,000 micro loan within two weeks and had $4,000 in sales by the end of their one-month Challenge!

Beyond that was the personal growth the participants experienced.

“We had a really phenomenal group go through the program and what really struck me was their willingness to do things outside of their comfort zones, including speaking about their experience in front of 1,000 of their peers at the Gathering our Voices Indigenous Youth Training Event,” Ambers says.

Directly crediting the 3C experience, one participant has already explored more leadership opportunities in her community and has earned a spot on the Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council.

“The fact that they were willing to step up showed me they were growing as individuals. Given the opportunity, they embraced it,” Ambrose says.

Don’t miss out! To learn more about the 3Cs program, email applications@3Cchallenge.org or visit them on Facebook.

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