In July, 2014, thirteen young Canadian entrepreneurs attended the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance (G20 YEA) Summit in Sydney, Australia. Our mission was to encourage the G20, B20 leaders, and the United Nations, to adopt strategies that facilitate youth entrepreneurship as a solution to high youth unemployment rates – 13.6 per cent in Canada – and reduce youth employment below 10 per cent globally by 2030.
Members of the G20 YEA also sought to embed entrepreneurial learning and support into all levels of the education system as a way of encouraging entrepreneurship as a viable career option. Early learning will help future entrepreneurs overcome the fear of failure, and turn this failure into a learning opportunity. These young entrepreneurs will be educated through traditional and experiential learning and will be catalysts for economic renewal, job creation, innovation and social change.
Another topic we discussed was the disparity between males and females when it comes to entrepreneurship. While women are starting their own ventures in record numbers, they struggle to scale and often grow most slowly than their male counterparts. The cause of this discrepancy comes, in part, because females are less likely to take risks, particularly when starting business as a parent. We also identified a need for additional programs supporting female entrepreneurs including child care incentives for new entrepreneurs.
There also appears to be a universal need for more accessible government grants, programs and services for the entrepreneurial community. We know there are grants and funding available for a variety of business endeavours, but the key is finding basic information about each respective program, including where to apply. Many businesses currently taking advantage of such programs have had to hire specialists to locate grants – an expenditure many businesses starting out are unable to afford. Local government offices, both rural and large urban, must ensure staff is trained in all available programs and services and make certain updated information is available to the community.
Through our discussions with trade minister Ed Fast and the consulate general of Canada in Sydney, Mario Ste-Marie, we also identified interprovincial trade barriers as an issue. Differing rules and regulations between provinces and the high cost of air travel within our own country make it difficult for businesses to operate outside their home province.
As a delegate, I was excited to hear about the youth entrepreneurship culture in other countries and see what new perspectives could be applied in my own community. Locally, I am working on connecting our entrepreneurs through BASE (Barrie Area Startups and Entrepeneurs) events. I will also be speaking to local youth and community on the importance of entrepreneurism and entrepreneurial learning.
Rebecca Palmer is a Barrie, Ont.-based serial entrepreneur and founder of the Triigo Project, which examines issues around the world through questions, conversation and pictures. The Canadian delegation of young entrepreneurs was organized by Futurpreneur Canada (formerly Canadian Youth Business Funding – CYBF).