One Arrow First Nation youth business club set to audition for CBC’s Dragon’s Den
- Fraser Needham | February 27, 2015
Creedance Thomas used to be a shy young man.
That was before the Grade 12 student hooked up with the One Arrow First Nation’s Almightyvoice Education Centre Business Club.
The AEC Business Club helps young people network, meet entrepreneurs and develop business plans and products.
Perhaps most importantly it gives them practice and training in the vital skills of public speaking and making presentations.
About 12 local youth are involved.
“This really helped me out a lot,” Thomas says. “I used to get pretty shy at first. This is my second year and I’ve learned quite a bit – how to speak for myself, how to talk and now I’m here speaking to the chief and councils.”
Joe Taylor is the AEC Business Club coordinator.
He says a big part of the program is providing mentorship by introducing the youth to successful Aboriginal entrepreneurs.
“It sets the kids up to finding role models, to finding mentors, learning to never be afraid to ask. Because I always tell my kids, ‘the worst that can happened is a no.’”
As part of the business club, the youth develop, market and try to raise capital for a product.
They have recently designed a small piece of plastic tubing which will serve as an extension kit for sewer vents on rooftops.
“If you’re like everybody else in this snowfall world, your vents get covered over and three things happen when your vents get covered: you have improper drainage so your drains don’t work in the house, you have odour problems and you have methane gas build up,” Taylor says. “So, I searched for an answer and I couldn’t find one.”
Taylor says although their solution to the problem of blocked sewer vents is a simple one, the business club could not find any other Saskatchewan stores that are offering a similar product.
They have already met with Federated-Coop and on February 26 he and Thomas gave a presentation to the Saskatoon Tribal Council chiefs.
The next step is an online audition for the CBC show Dragon’s Den.
Taylor says the youth won’t have much time to make their pitch so they intend to focus on the story behind the product.
“You either get on by having a really good product, a really good story or a really gimmicky thing. And I’m going to throw the gimmicky thing out of the window because they have a story. It’s a wonderful story that’s marketable and it’s a product that can work. So, if they can somehow project the story and the product linked together, I think they have a really good chance.”
The AEC Business Club is sponsored by the Saskatoon Tribal Council’s education department and funded by an agreement with Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.
Related story: Business Club pilot project a hit at One Arrow