by Ethan Paquet
The Young Millionaires Program (YMP) offers training, mentoring, and ongoing support to help youth aged nine to 16 explore and thrive in an entrepreneurial environment.
Over the last 30 years, the program, based at the Central Development Corporation, has helped over 2,000 Island youth develop and expand their business skills and supported them in turning their idea into a realistic start-up.
This year, 142 youth across seven regions of PEI launched a wide variety of businesses, including handmade jewelry and other creative, unique products.
“Our goal is to give everybody the chance to do what they want to do,” says Cora Sonier, Program Coordinator.
Cora knows the value of these skills firsthand. “I took part in the program the first year it was offered, and I built my career on what I learned,” she says. “The skills we are teaching the youth can be applied to every aspect of their lives.”
Last year, YMP began collaborating with schools to reach older youth through a microcredential course. This year, they partnered with COWS Inc. to obtain space for participants to set up shop each week in Avonlea Village.
“The average annual earnings of each business last year was $400, and this year, that number increased to $586. Many of our youth heard from business owners who were impressed and wanted to carry their products.”
Earlier this year, YMP launched Shooting Stars, which allows former participants to return to the program. Second-year participants have the option to receive additional funding for the same business, and both second and third-year participants can mentor new participants.
“This first year of Shooting Stars was even better than we expected. For example, one young lady was in the program this year after dissolving her partnership last year, and she has earned $17,000 since January.”
With this success, Cora hopes to launch more programs, including a version of YMP for adults, and an employment program to teach youth about career development including resumé and cover letters, job search techniques, interview preparation, and employee rights.
“Not only are we addressing those entrepreneurial skills that are so important because they are transferable skills, we are also working to bring this program to a whole new level.”
Youth interested in joining the YMP program can pre-register online. YMP staff will reach out to applicants to discuss their business idea and to schedule a one-on-one intake interview.
While funding is only available in June and July, Cora encourages youth to reach out if they would like help in developing their business idea.
“Youth are welcome to begin their businesses prior to the start date of the program, and we can help them develop ideas, logos, and anything else they need to get their idea off the ground. Then they can register online to get funding.”
Cora says the most successful YMP participants have been the ones who kept an open mind to possibilities and opportunities.
“All we do is give them the skills that they need, and they do amazingly well all on their own. Anything is possible, whether you do it with the help of our program or on your own.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about the Young Millionaires Program, visit www.youngmillionairesprogram.ca