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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Promoting youth entrepreneurship

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Following up Antti’s recent post regarding the importance of growth companies, some observations regarding entrepreneurship education here.

A while ago I had a chat with a Canadian exchange student, and learned there is a special government summer program in Canada to promote youth entrepreneurship. The program is called Summer Company. For 15-29 years old students, whose planned business is eligible (there are some restrictions, e.g. partnerships, franchises, or distributorships are not accepted) the program offers the following:

  • Up to $1,500 to help with business start-up costs
  • An additional $1,500 in the fall after successfully completing the Summer Company program (students must give regular updates on their cash flow and keep a business journal throughout the summer)
  • At least 12 hours of business training to get started
  • An opportunity to meet every two weeks with a business mentoring group

The student I was discussing with told me that while the majority of the companies founded in this program are simple, like “lawn mowing enterprises”, nothing prevents from being more ambitious – this friend for example had founded an energy audit firm, which faced booming demand after a few weeks. By the end of the summer the founder faced a difficult solution – should he build the business further, hiring employees, or, come to Finland to do the exchange. Well, he decided to come over since he’d been planning that for over a year, but not before he sold the company forward with a hefty profit.

Now, I know there are some high school entrepreneurship programs in Finland where the pupils found companies for one school year, but in my opinion something similar to the Canadian program targeted to all undergrads would be really welcome also, don’t you think? It would provide the possibility to safely explore entrepreneurship (while receiving professional guidance), and also to employ yourself, should one not get a summer job. And who knows, maybe we’d see occasional stars also rising from these kinds of startups.

Well, there is at least Helsinki School of Creative Entrepreneurship, but it’s only open for students from the participating design, business, and technology universities (TaiK, HSE, and TKK). The concept is great anyway: students will be put into teams where they get some prominent research project or company assignment to commercialize, while studying business skills hands-on and getting mentoring (check out HSCE Creativity Bootcamps by the way).

Are there any similar schools/programs elsewhere in Finland? Anything already existing that could be extended to national level?

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