Entrepreneurship as a career option has gain significant momentum in Canada so engaging youth to become entrepreneurs and grow entrepreneurial skills follows in importance. This is particularly true for young women since entrepreneurial and leadership characteristics as well as economic prosperity are experienced differently by women.

For those reasons, Brescia University College recognized the need to motivate young women, particularly of high school girls, to consider becoming entrepreneurs by developing the Just Own It program.

Brescia University College’s Just Own It program is a new initiative that provides high school girls with the opportunity to be exposed to, explore and experience entrepreneurship. Our objective is to increase girls’ awareness of entrepreneurship as a career option and to inspire them to start a business.”

In a kickoff conference for the program, female entrepreneurs and those working in the entrepreneurship space volunteered to help deliver one of three 50-minute sessions: (1) idea generation, (2) product development, and (3) technology & entrepreneurship.

Colleen G. McCauley, Founder/Owner of Earth to Business Marketing, and Shyra Barberstock, Co-Founder of Okwaho Network were paired up to co-facilitate Session 1: Product Ideas and Validation. In this active-learning workshop, girls were tasked to coming up with a product or service that might solve a problem. After creating their idea, team members shifted to another table to give feedback on another team’s creation. To end the session, each team briefly described their creation, and discussed what they learned from the workshop.

“Thank you for inviting me to participate. The girls were great! So engaged and willing to learn. I was happy to share my story of thinking about running my own business at the end of high school, and eventually bringing that dream to life.” ~ Colleen G McCauley

A trade show followed for networking with small businesses and organizations that support them in London and surrounding area. Earth to Business Marketing logo stickers for the networking passports were well received, and requested even when cards were full for some inspiration.

In follow-up to the conference, Brescia University College’s next major #JustOwnIt activity are the Summer Entrepreneurship Boot Camps in June and July.  Applications start March 23rd, 2015 and will close on April 15th, 2015 at midnight. If you know high school aged girls that want to learn more, visit Brescia University College’s website at: http://brescia.uwo.ca/justownit/

Supporting women entrepreneurs and those aspiring to learn more about entrepreneurship, regardless of gender, is important to the growth and diversity of local economies. That is why Earth to Business Marketing continues to support local initiatives to help achieve those goals!

Update September 2, 2015

To wrap up the Just Own It conference and boot camps, Brescia University College produced a series of five videos available on the Just Own It! YouTube channel. The videos were developed to help anyone who works with youth for use in entrepreneurial education initiatives. Topics include entrepreneur traits, identification of a customer problem, product development, creating and validating a business model, and pitching a business idea.  A teacher’s guide is also available for each video, with resources and class activities. Please share this information to your network!

Update January 7, 2016

The second Just Own It conference (#JOI2016) will be held on Friday, February 19th, 2016 from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm at Brescia University College, including keynote speaker Nicole Verkindt from Dragon’s Den: Next Gen Den. The target audience is high school girls who simply want to understand what entrepreneurship is and where to go in London for support.

Looking for Female Entrepreneur Mentors to:

  • Showcase the different personalities of successful entrepreneurs
  • Share your stories of failure, success, and humility
  • Elaborate on the benefits of starting your own business
  • Offer support and advice
  • Network and learn about the talent in our community

If you are a female entrepreneur interested in participating as a mentor/facilitator, please email all questions to Nikita at Brescia University College.