Entrepreneur club formed at high school

Participating students will learn skills and pitch business plans before a panel

By Kaitlyn Nightingale

Summerland Secondary School has partnered with members of the community to begin an entrepreneurial club for students.

These students are hoping to learn more about the efforts involved in starting a business.

Dan Dinsmore, who is on the board of directors and the bursary committee at the Summerland Credit Union, has taken charge of this project. The idea was developed by Dinsmore, along with members of the bursary committee, Sandy Berry and Lorrie Forde.

“We saw a gap between the academic stream students and that there is an opportunity to be able to meet this gap,” he said.

Approximately $200,000 in bursary money has been awarded to students over the years by the Credit Union, but this funding has been for academic achievement.

After contacting the school over the summer, the project was welcomed.

Teachers involved are Raja Gupta, a science teacher at the high school, who will be the sponsor teacher for the club, as well as Charles Lay and Tammy Takashima.

“This will be very different than other activities in the school,” Gupta said. “It will teach students to be self reliant. They will have to engage, study and ensure their own success.”

The club will provide the framework and access to skills that students wouldn’t otherwise have.

The club began about a month ago and there have been two meetings so far, with meetings taking place twice a month. It will run until June, when participants will have the opportunity to pitch a business plan in front of a panel.

The panel will be made up members from the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, NeighbourLink and experts in business.

The Credit Union hopes to seed two of these ideas and provide the funding in order make them into a reality. At present, there are 12 students from Grades 10 to 12 participating in the club.

Throughout the year, events for these students will include field trips to various businesses. Students will learn about innovative ideas for companies, and where the issues lie. Among these will be a trip to the research station to learn about agritech, which combines new technologies with agriculture to improve the efficiency and production of crops.

Another future trip will be to a weekend entrepreneurial event in Kelowna. They will meet with experts in marketing, accounting, and locate places for students to find mentorship on their own projects.

“Part of being an entrepreneur is solving problems.” said Dinsmore.

Participants will be introduced to the problems faced by businesses and what they could do to solve them.

Catering to students with fresh ideas will give them the potential to flourish right here in town.

Nicole Clark, from Community Futures, is one of many who will introduce the different aspects of entrepreneurship. A statement from their website says “Community Futures offers a variety of services and tools to help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their goals, including business support services, business planning advice, loans and self employment assistance.”

A foundation account with charity status had been set up by the Credit Union to begin creating funds for the project. The club will also connect with the community to gain support.

The club is looking for volunteers with business-related skill sets. Those interested in participating are asked to contact Dinsmore at 250-494-7199.

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