An entrepreneurial program for aboriginals in Port Alberni is kick starting 18 people into business.
Called the Aboriginal Business & Entrepreneurship Skills Training,(BEST) the two week intensive program ran from 9-4:30 p.m. daily covering all aspects of running a successful business and featuring 10 guest speakers.
The program received excellent feedback according to Caledonia Fred of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Economic Development Corporation, NEDC, which partnered with the program.
“People were very happy with the program,” she says.
A graduation dinner was held March 4 at the River Rock Casino in Port Alberni where participants showed videos on commercials that each of them made to showcase their business.
Fred says the participants were at different places in their business and the program helped them visualize what they wanted to do next.
“Some are getting close to starting a business. They’re jumping through the regulatory hoops,” she said. “Some are going through their equity so they can get started. Some of them are reviewing their initial business plan because they realized it wasn’t viable.”
Fred says the program gave people a lot of confidence and ability to tap into existing resources.
“They realized there’s a lot of support in our community to help them move forward,” she said.
She said there was “excellent energy” in the group and a “good entrepreneurial spirit.”
The program also made a difference in the participants attitude about running a business.
They came in “shy and uncertain and walked out with more confidence and their head held high,” she says.
The future is bright for more people who want to participate in the program.
“We will continue to partner with the program as it teaches people so many skills,” says Fred.
Naomi Nickelson, who has been self-employed for 10 years and runs Secluded Wellness Centre, says she taught a few workshops and talked about the financial aspects of running a business.
“I basically tell them some of the things I wish people had told me starting out in business,” she says.
Nickelson talked about managing money and negotiating bank fees, credit card transactions, cell phone rates and more.
“That’s something that’s not really taught,” she says. “Don’t be scared to ask for a lower rate, shop around.”