by Stella Shepard
The Young Millionaires Program (YMP) gives youth aged nine to 16 the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship.
Young Millionaires Program has been operating on PEI for 29 consecutive years with more than 1,800 youth participating in the program. Participants submit a business plan outlining their business ideas, goals, and a request for funding of up to $150 towards start-up costs.
This year, there are 113 participants across six Island regions with a wide variety of businesses from jewelry making to producing other unique and creative products.
“Participants are encouraged to do what they love to do and are supported by their regional facilitator and mentors as they explore the business world,” says Cora Sonier, Provincial Coordinator of the Young Millionaires Program.
Cora speaks from experience – she was once a participant in the program. She attributes the personal and financial skills learned through the program to the development of a career later in life.
As well, she says the budgeting skills learned through the program helped her with the purchase of a home a decade later.
“The purpose of the program is to instill confidence, to learn the value of establishing and working towards a goal, to provide inspiration and motivation, and to help youth discover the essential skills that will grow with them as they and their goals mature,” says Cora.
“The program is delivered through various workshops that help build basic business skills such as writing a business plan, branding, and doing market research,” says Emma Gamble, Client Information Officer with Montague Rural Action Centre, and the Regional Coordinator with the YMP.
Emma organizes the program’s business skills training workshops, assists in any ongoing inquiries and needs throughout the summer, and visits participants on site.
She also assisted with organizing the end of the year celebration event, matched participants with mentors from the business community, and set up vending opportunities.
Young Millionaires participants:
Averyn and Rayawyn Thomas of Murray Harbour North along with their cousins Isla and Cora Thomas of Montague are first-time entrepreneurs. They say YMP has been a fun experience which has helped them develop practical life skills and entrepreneurial skills.
They developed a business plan, attended workshops on marketing, customer service, accounting, record keeping, and basic business planning.
Nine-year-old Averyn and 13-year-old Rayawyn were preschoolers when introduced to the world of baking by a parent. They use a licensed commercial kitchen to bake gluten free and dairy free cookies for sale at the Point Prim Market and launched Frost Sisters.
“It’s been fun and overwhelming,” says Rayawyn. “We will continue selling to customers after the program ends.”
“I am saving money to buy a horse,” says Averyn, who loves animals. Rayawyn is saving money to buy another companion pet, perhaps a cat or a dog.
Isla, 12, and Cora, 11, pooled their talents and launched Cottage Crafts. Isla creates mushroom earrings, keychains, and wire wrapped crystals for sale. She is working on creating frog earrings for future sales. Cora, with a passion for creating artwork, constructs hand-drawn greeting cards for sale.
“We are saving our money and also investing back into the businesses,” says Cora. “I love mushroom earrings and could not find a place to buy them, so I created my own for sale,” says Isla.
Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC), located at the Rural Action Centre on Main Street in Montague, assists in creating small businesses and in expanding and modernizing existing business by providing financial and technical services to entrepreneurs.
Martina MacDonald is the Executive Director of CBDC East, and Helen Antle is the Business Development Officer. “CBDC East helps the YMP participants build and succeed in their summer businesses by helping find selling opportunities in the community, doing site visits to their businesses, and being available for any ongoing support they may require,” says Martina.
“The YMP has always been one of my favourites. I think it is critical that we introduce our youth to the opportunities that exist for them at a very young age. They need an opportunity to explore all avenues of career paths, be it the trades, entrepreneurship, or health care.
“We have some great success stories. What’s the Scoop in Montague started with the YMP and now it is a huge employer of young people. You will never know unless you try.”
For more information about the Young Millionaires Program, visit www.youngmillionairesprogram.ca
For more information about Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) visit www.cbdc.ca or call 902-838-4030