On their own terms: Street youth entrepreneurship.

Written by Kevin Hayes, Free Range Youth

“Success is not what you have, but who you are.” –  Bo Bennet

When I started my first company a few years ago, I enjoyed playing games like  “How am I going to eat today.” or “I wonder if today is the day that my phone is going to be shut off”. My favourite game took place while standing in line at my favourite pizza by the slice place and waiting to see if I got the “Approved” or “Declined”. Sometimes I won that game, sometimes I didn’t. Eventually my business started to gain some traction. I started to acquire clients, deliver services, receive cheques, and pay myself. Going from keeping a single digit bank account and living on crackers and peanut butter…who am I kidding, I couldn’t afford peanut butter…to having a profitable business that provides financial security, confidence, and a stable life, did not happen over night. In fact, it didn’t happen in a year. I think I stopped borrowing money from the Bank of Family & Friends over two years after I started my business. It wasn’t easy to get by for those two years, but I made a decision to keep going until I couldn’t any more. Thank goodness I did, the reward has been amazing. I have made it.

The relentless pursuit of “making it”, surviving at all costs, and persevering regardless of life’s conditions, are the qualities that have given me the life I have today. Being an entrepreneur is not about being the smartest person in the room – being an entrepreneur is about moving forward and forging ahead, even when all odds are against you.

This is what Free Range Youth, FRY, is about. FRY is a program that teaches street youth about entrepreneurship. FRY is really about equipping young people with the tools to help them make decisions for themselves. Street youth are already entrepreneurial. They sometimes earn their own income. They survive day-to-day thanks to their incredible resiliency in dealing with the social and economic challenges that come with a life on the streets.

Through a five-step process, FRY takes young people from conception to execution of a business idea, utilizing skill sets they already possess. Essentially, our intention is to show them that their existing skills are valuable – we’re trying to expose these young people for the brilliant shining stars they already are.

What are the business ideas you ask? Well, we have had youth come to the program wanting to open everything from bakeries and restaurants to computer companies and healing centres. The real
magic happens when these kids realize that they have a real shot at achieving whatever they want in life.

FRY is a small part of the journey for these young people. At the end of the day, our goal is to support them as they achieve their goals. Whether these young stars start their own business, or use their newfound confidence to go out and apply for a job, FRY provides the framework and structure that can help them move in whatever direction they choose.

Free Range Youth offered its first program in January 2013, and have since had 30 students attend.  They believe that supporting young people in challenging life circumstances is important for a strong future, economy and community.  To learn more about FRY, visit their website here: http://www.freerangeyouth.com/

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*
*

I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.
Neighbourhood Revitilization

RiverWalk in East Village

Calgary’s East Village is being transformed. What was once a neglected inner-city neighbourhood is becoming a hub for creativity, recreation and community. RiverWalk officially opened on the August long weekend, is central to the revitalized look of the East Village and means a better quality of life for all Calgarians.

 Learn More
Meaningful Employment

Green Collar Job Initiative

A meaningful job that pays a living wage, helps the environment and strengthens the economy? That’s a green collar job. Thrive and its partners launched the Green Collar Jobs initiative with the release of the report Green Collar Jobs: New Workforce Development Opportunities for Alberta. The report provides a strong foundation from which to stimulate a green economy in our city.

 Learn More
Innovative Social Finance

Community Capital Networks

Passionate about supporting a sustainable local economy, REAP and its partners host a monthly webinar series called Community Capital Networks. If you are interested in unleashing the flow of capital to support a greener local economy, join the conversation to learn about promising practices across North America and to discuss how to bring them to Calgary.

 Learn More
Local Business Development

Enterprising Non-Profits Alberta

With the launch of Enterprising Non-Profits Alberta, Calgarians can expect to shop from more and more socially conscious businesses. ENP-AB is providing grants and technical assistance to non-profit organizations engaged in social enterprise, the kind that brings both financial and social returns.

 Learn More