Celebrating youth entrepreneurs, a Biz Kids barbeque and trade fair was held at the Credit Union parking lot in Vermilion on August 24.
Community Futures Lloydminster and Region, in partnership with the Regional Business Accelerator and Wainwright Economic Development, hosted the event.
According to Community Futures Lloydminster and Region’s General Manager, Phyllis Maki, the Biz Kids program has now come full circle having one of their Biz Kids return as a mentor. The program began in Bonnyville and Cold Lake in 2001, and has now expanded to include Medley, Lloydminster, Vermilion, and Wainwright participants.
Maki has been with the program since its inception in 2001, and said, “This is an absolutely phenomenal program; it’s incredible what the children have done.”
She also mentioned that many of the youth have chosen to donate part or occasionally all of their proceeds within the community.
“When you see that, it gives you faith that we can keep our small communities going,” said Maki.
Twenty-four youth from Lloydminster, Vermilion, and Wainwright participated this year - creating 19 businesses, and 22 of these youth showcased their business ventures varying from entertainment and accessories to baking and refreshments, bath and body products, fresh produce, and gun cleaning services. Proceeds from the barbeque went to support next year’s Biz Kids program.
“They taught me about finance and marketing which is good to know,” said 17-year-old Jorah Morritt who plans to open a bakery in Vermilion in the future.
Maki went on to say that the program has been amazing; giving the children valuable knowledge and experience. She stated that Nathan James who started his business ‘Icycle Bicycle’ last year, is still going strong and came to the wrap up this year to show his support for the program.
“Nathan proved that philanthropy is alive and well even in the youngest members of our communities, when he presented the organizers with a donation from his profits to ensure the continued success of the Biz Kids program,” said Maki.
“The bike and freezers cost $4,000 and we have paid back $3,000 so far. This year has been pretty good; we’ve expanded a lot and we are more experienced so we can do a lot more,” said 12-year-old Nathan James who added that they started with eight ice cream flavours and now have 15.
Nathan is often accompanied by his sister Laura and they are saving up for cars and university and plan to later sell the business to their younger brother, Kessler.