Rose always wanted to be an entrepreneur and she had a business idea. But, as a single parent of two young children, finances were limited. Then she found a Salvation Army entrepreneur initiative for struggling young parents.
“We believe that there is a link between the entrepreneurship and training of young parents and their ability to move off of the systems that keep them in poverty,” says Naomi Praamsma, Executive Director of Ottawa’s Bethany Hope Centre. “Our goal is to not only give assistance to vulnerable parents in starting a business, but to help them decide if entrepreneurship or education is the right route for them.”
Bringing Vision to Light
“Hope Ventures is an Entrepreneurship Training Program offered to pregnant/parenting youth in Ottawa,” says Shawna Norman, program coordinator. “The program equips young parents with skills that improve their economic and social stability. They leave with concrete goals as to how they will make that happen.”
In-class and one-on-one training provides participants the basic fundamentals of running a small business. From proposal writing to customer service and marketing students receive the support needed to open their own enterprise. Recent graduates of the program have started businesses such as dog training, native apparel and video production. In fact, 100 % of Hope Ventures graduates are working, self-employed and/or are in school.
Rose came to Hope Ventures with a business concept, Princess Sariyah, a black princess design to be used on items such as backpacks, lunch boxes and ebooks. She just needed help to take it to the next level. Wrap-around services such as counselling, babysitting for her children, food services and financial support helped her to develop it further.
“The grant was huge,” says Rose. “I was able to register my business and a domain name (www.princesssariyah.com), hire a graphic designer and purchase product samples. When you have someone backing you it makes a big difference. The Salvation Army provided the right pool of people to bring my vision to light. My ultimate goal is to sponsor a school in my home country of Haiti. That would be amazing.”