A bounty of business opportunities for entrepreneurs
By Donna MacMullin
Having the drive to succeed in a competitive market is difficult for the average entrepreneur. Promoting a company across the country is even more challenging especially when you're still in high school.
Alim Jiwa did not see it this way when they took it upon himself at the age of 16, to start his own entertainment company, specializing in organizing teen dance parties, in British Columbia. "We started with all-ages video dance parties and found them to be quite successful," Jiwa said.
From there the company flourished and Jiwa was joined by Shafin Tejani who further built the business adding T-shirt design, printing and sound and lighting rentals.
Last year, Tejani and Jiwa formed a second company, which promotes a computer compatible fund-raising program in over 300 schools across Canada. "It's a Valentine's Day matchmaker like the ones which are usually run in high schools, but we revised it to make it more geared to youth," Tejani said.The two attended conferences across Canada to promote the project and ensure it was feasible.
Both, now students at Western, Tejani and Jiwa have received various awards for their success. They were also recently nominated for an achievement award in entrepreneurship by the YTV network.
Magda Krpan, public relations co-ordinator for the network, said nominees for the awards are chosen and short-listed by a team of researchers at YTV. "There is a core group of researchers for each category and then a specialty judge which makes recommendations to the nominees," she said. "As a youth network we are a supporter of youth undertakings. It is an important part of our programming.
"This is a forum to honour kids and their achievements."
This year's lucky winners will take home various prizes including a $3,000 honorarium, trophy and national recognition through a live broadcast which will be shown in late April, Krpan said. Prize recipients will be announced next week.
At the university level Jiwa and Tejani have also been actively involved in encouraging youth to take on entrepreneurial endeavours. The two have been heavily involved with the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting student business owners.
"ACE has an international mandate to promote entrepreneurialism among youth and is backed by sponsoring from the CIBC," Jiwa said. He added they were trying to promote the group on campus, hoping to become a University Students' Council ratified club or mentoring system.
"Young people need to know that there are opportunities available and so many advantages to be gained," Tejani said. "Students might as well get involved. The student development centre, for example, is a great resource and since you pay for it through student fees, you might as well use it.
"We're proof that it can be done and now we're flying."