SFU students launch a mini business incubator for Surrey high school students
By Allen Tung
Thirteen high school students took their first steps into entrepreneurship thanks to a group of student mentors at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus.
In fall 2015, students with Enactus SFU worked with students from local Surrey high schools to help them turn their ideas into micro-businesses using Bright Ideas, a six-week business start-up program led by Ricky Au, program manager and Beedie business student.
With the help of SFU student mentors and a $100 start-up loan, the high school students created small businesses selling a variety of wares.
Bright Ideas began its second cycle on Feb. 3 this year. Eight new high school teams are currently planning their business ideas and attending workshops to learn about all aspects of business, as well as receive feedback on their progress and learn presentation skills.
“Bright Ideas is a mini business incubator for high school students,” says Winona Bhatti, president of Enactus SFU, a student group that promotes entrepreneurship and manages a slate of community-based, social enterprise-focused programs.
“We act as mentors for the students and also bring in speakers to motivate and help them to learn what makes a successful business.”
Last fall, three students from Kwantlen Park Secondary School launched a venture called Sweet Sensations.
They developed a line of decorative mason jars filled with dry cookie mix to be used for baking or as kitchen-counter décor, and sold them for $5 each.
Sweet Sensations had just six weeks to sell its product and repay the $100 loan. Not only did the students meet their deadline, they also generated $477 in revenue.
“There’s a real buzz among these students once they see how good ideas have very real potential,” says Bhatti.
Ten per cent of students’ profits went to charity, with the students keeping the remainder. The Sweet Sensations team donated about $50 of its revenue to B.C. Children’s Hospital.
The students have since closed Sweet Sensations to focus on school, but are interested in pursuing business at SFU once they graduate from high school.
Says one team member: “The mentors gave good, honest feedback, which benefited the business a lot. If anything went wrong or if someone didn’t know what to do, the management and mentors were always ready to help as much as they could.”
With an impressive membership of nearly 200 students, Enactus SFU oversees nearly a dozen programs, including Count on Me, a financial literacy program for at-risk youth and Banner Bags, which has the simple mission of educating high school students to be more environmentally friendly.
In January, Enactus SFU launched Refresh, a new program to collect blemished fruit from grocery stores, dehydrate it, and resell it to the grocery stores as a dried fruit product. The group's eventual goal is to employ at-risk people in this enterprise.
Enactus SFU will be at SFU’s 50th Anniversary Celebration: Surrey Open House on Mar. 2, 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to showcase Bright Ideas and other innovative programs. Find them in Room 3290.