A rewarding experience with the AYEC business camp
- Tiffany Head | August 16, 2015
Sixteen students and a couple of recent graduates waited nervously for the event to begin as they tidied up loose ends for their presentations.
They have been working on their presentations tirelessly for five and half days since they had begun the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Camp (AYEC) at the First Nations University of Canada and were grouped together in four groups of four.
Shaedon Goy (Mistawasis) wanted to participate in the program this year to learn how to start his own business and the experience had been good and he really enjoyed it.
His group, Maggie Joyea (Whitebear), Kobe Gomorth (Papeekasis), and Dominique Kaiswatum (Paipot), came up with the idea for a healthier alternative for active people. They wanted to have a product which had natural and organic ingredients in their energy bars and energy drinks. They called their product Pimah, which is the shortened Cree word for Pimahtisewin (energy).
“If we win the contest, it could actually persuade us to go through with this idea since it is kind of needed and energy drinks are bad for your health, so this would be a good opportunity for people to still get energy and the health benefits,” said Gomorth.
Each group presented a very unique business concept along with a 30 second commercial. The other three groups had business concepts such as:
- NDN clothing, which would be eco friendly and affordable and with a mission to empower First Nations people. The people in this group consisted of Kelly Daniels (Whitecap), Alyssa Rosebluff (Muscowpetung), Lanis Machiskinie (Regina), and Wyatt Asapace (Regina).
- Blessed cases for song and dance regalia, which would basically be decorated boxes in various sizes to keep Regalia safe and protected. Sienna Goforth (Papeekesis), Mack Ironchild (Littlepine), Dainlus Isrance (Standing Buffalo), and Kaliegh Starblanket (Starblanket) came up with the idea as Starblanket had already begun making her blessed case for her regalia.
- Comfort zone, which was an idea to make sleep pods in Airports, train stations and bus depots across Canada so travellers, pilots and drivers, and work attendants would be able to catch a few ZZZ’s if they were waiting for a few hours or more before take-off. Josh Vevillot (Lac Brochet, MB), Chancelier (Regina), Phillip (Frog Lake, AB), and Milton McArthur (Kisbey) figured it would be cheaper than paying for a hotel room.
Six judges, Eric Dillon CEO of Conexus Credit Union, Grant Ring, V.I.P of Saskpower, Brayden Freeman key accountant of Saskpower, Christopher from FHQTC, Lily Swart, Michelle Dumais reviewed their ideas and gave the students feedback on how they could make their business ideas better as well as asking them questions.
The judges were given score sheets to mark the presenters and the score sheet was based on business concepts which, identified competitive advantage, Innovative, identifies a real market need, had the 4Ps, product, price, promotion and place, is financially feasible and has profit potential. The business concept also had to demonstrate ethical and social responsibilities.
Dillon loved the Pimah presentation and thought it had a real tremendous business opportunity that they could actually bring to life. He also mentions that the program from the First Nations University of Canada should be very proud of the work they do for the youth.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for young people to learn about business and learn how to think through a business plan and get it off the ground,” said Dillon.
Camp Co-ordinator Langon Goforth said that besides the many prizes that the students will go home with for their hard work, they will also go home with a different mind perspective.
“They will be going home with essential business skills, skill maybe things they haven’t thought about high school students, they are going home with experience, university experience, They are going home with valuable knowledge and tools that they are going to be able to use in the future,” and Goforth.
The awards were given and the groups who won which award are as follows:
Best Commercial Award to Comfort Zone
Best Presentation to Pimah
Best First Nations concept to NDN clothing
Best Overall Business award to Blessed.
For individual awards:
Best essay to Dominique Kaiswatum.
The most entrepreneurial person, Kobe Goforth.
Camp Leadership award to Lanis Machiskinie (voted for by the students).
Prizes included goodies such as laptops, beats by Dr. Dre, Samsung tablets, selfie sticks and other brand name tablets.