Athena Theny often dreamed of being able to make and sell her jewellery, leather handbags and other creations in her own store. Now her dream has been realized through Athena Atelier, her boutique in Gastown.
Athena Atelier is the result of Athena's participation in the Youth Mean Business program, along with her extensive collaboration with business advisors, professors and social entrepreneurs in the community. Athena's success is one of the reasons government is extending the Youth Mean Business pilot project through to March 31, 2013.
Funded through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement (LMA), the B.C. government is investing a total of nearly $2 million for the Youth Mean Business program, which helps youth (aged 18 to 29 years) work with business advisors to create sound business proposals that they can then develop into formal business plans. The program provides up to $5,000 for each participant, some of which can be used as seed money for launching their business. The pilot initially launched in June 2011, with an investment of $1.65 million through to October 2012. Government is investing an additional $337,900 to extend the program to the end of the fiscal year.
Before participating in Youth Mean Business, Athena was working in the mental-health field as a group facilitator and making jewellery and accessories on the side. She sold some of her designs on consignment at local boutiques, but thought of her passion for design as a hobby rather than as something she could run as a business. Through working with business advisors and using some seed funding from the program, she gained the tools necessary to put a plan into action and become the designer she always wanted to be.
From June 2011 to October 31, 2012, about 185 young people have participated in the Youth Mean Business program throughout the province, and have worked with business advisors to develop proposals to gain traction on their own business ideas. The goal is to get to at least 226 by the end of March 2013. The YMCA of Greater Vancouver administers the Youth Mean Business program in Greater Vancouver, ETHOS Career Management Group in Victoria, and Community Futures in both Kelowna and Prince George.
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Pat Bell -
"Our government is committed to supporting young people to be successful. That's why we're investing in skills training and in programs like Youth Mean Business to ensure they have the tools they need to fulfill their goals."
Minister of State for Small Business Naomi Yamamoto -
"Starting your own business takes a lot of hard work, courage and planning. The Youth Mean Business program plays a vital role in helping young British Columbians get the head start they need to put their plan into action and be successful."
Athena Theny, former program participant and owner of Athena Atelier -
"I have always dreamed of being a designer, but I didn't know how to make it financially viable or where to focus my time and energy in order to be successful in this creative landscape. The Youth Mean Business program afforded me the opportunity to focus on my designs and to make a sound business plan. The mentorship that the program provided supported me in shaping my vision and in knowing how I can confidently make my dream a reality."
Stephen Butz, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater
"When young people grow up healthy, it makes our whole community stronger. That's why the Youth Mean Business program is so important-it helps young people fulfil their dreams by providing them with the skills and resources needed to reach their full potential."
- The Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement (LMA) funds programs and services for employed people who are low-skilled and for unemployed individuals who are not eligible for Employment Insurance.
- As a direct result of federal LMA funding, thousands of British Columbians are receiving training that will advance their careers, assist in securing new employment and ultimately improve the social and economic outcomes of individuals in B.C. and Canada.
- Between 2008 and 2012, the LMA has provided training to approximately 74,000 individuals across the province.
- The current agreement will expire on March 31, 2014, and B.C. is preparing to enter discussions with the federal government to renew this important agreement and ensure our province has the skilled workforce required to support long-term labour market needs and economic growth.
- During the month of November, the B.C. government is asking for ideas from citizens on the topic of building a skilled workforce. You can contribute your ideas, comment or make a suggestion at: www.bcjobsplan.ca/
Youth Mean Business in Vancouver: www.vanymca.org/cs/youthmeanbusiness.html
Youth Mean Business in Victoria: www.ethoscmg.com/ymb.html
Youth Mean Business in Prince George: http://cfdc.bc.ca/youth-mean-business/
Youth Mean Business in Kelowna: www.cfdcco.com/youth-means-business.html
Athena Atelier: http://athenaatelier.com/
WorkBC skills training programs: www.workbc.ca/Education-Training/Programs/Pages/Employment-Programs.aspx
Industry Training Authority: www.itabc.ca
Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement information: www.jtst.gov.bc.ca/labourmarketagreement/
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
Manager, Marketing and Communications
YMCA of Greater Vancouver