Kehnteke Creations is the result of Summer Company, which is an opportunity for students returning to school in the fall, to try their hand at running a small business over the summer holidays. They are given business training, assisted to write a business plan and receive up to $1,500 for start-up and an additional $1,500 upon completion. Summer Company provides students a taste for entrepreneurship, provides experience and awareness of the strong local business community.
Below is Mika Parks story.
“My business is called Kehnteke Creations, and I make crafts with my Raiyne of 3 Feathers Creations. We are separate businesses but we work together and help each other. We both do beading and I make kits so people can make their own pieces like ours. I cut out the leather, get the raw materials together and package them. I go to school at the Hope school in Tyendinaga, on the reserve. I am Mohawk on both sides of my family. Part of my family owns the Beach Bum store in Picton.
Raiyne’s and my summer businesses are making and selling crafts and kits at pow wows. Our big challenge is transportation, getting our stuff around, but big accomplishments are our work sells well, and also I make crafts with children, so they can be proud and say “I did that! I made that myself.” And that feels really good. In winter we’ll take our things into schools and do co-ops. If this summer goes well we might do food at pow wows next year. Everybody needs to eat! Not traditional foods like fried bread and strawberry cake but something different. Like ice cream!”
More About Summer Company
Summer Company is a core program of the Small Business Centre running annually from mid-May to August 31. It is an opportunity for students returning to school in the fall, to try their hand at running a small business over the summer holidays. They are given business training, assisted to write a business plan and receive up to $1500 for start-up. After they run their summer business, complete all group activities and administrative aspects of the program and return to school, they receive an additional participation award of $1,500.
For the second year in a row, a portion of the overall Quinte budget has been allotted for development of a satellite program to run in Picton. The 10 participants in the satellite group come from PEC, L&A and Tyendinaga. They range in age from 15 to 19. Businesses include henna tattoo, beads made from natural stone, dance and arts camps, native crafts classes, postcards of local landmarks, athletic wear, indigenous jewellery, property maintenance and sports accessories.
Applying for Summer Company is a rigorous process. By the time a student has been approved and receives their start-up grant, they have written a detailed business plan including a start-up budget and cash flow, signed several legal documents, registered the business, secured insurance if needed and set up a separate bank account. It’s fair to say that not everyone who expresses an interest in Summer company, gets through this process! Help is available in the form of Sandy Abbott, the Small Business Centre consultant Prince Edward/Lennox and Addington, but the burden of completion by the early May deadline falls on the students themselves.
“Looking back at participants I have worked with over the last 5 years, I would say Summer Company students tend to be leaders with high aspirations. These particular ten have started businesses which allow them to follow their passion and make money at the same time. They all intend to keep the business going when they return to school and one already has plans to hire an assistant for next year. The program is for students who intend to continue their education. While many restart the business every summer during university, most have plans to work in professional services or skilled trades eventually. The program builds entrepreneurial skills and experience which is a factor in many graduates becoming business owners eventually.”
The enthusiasm for ‘being your own boss’ rubs off on other kids during the summer. Friends and family of the Summer Company students watch their progress during the summer and Youth in general visit the markets and fairs where they sell their products. Many ask questions about how the businesses got started. After just 2 years, we have an unofficial waiting list of 5 students who are waiting to turn 15 so they can launch their own business with the help of the program!
“Working with the Youth in Summer Company is a highlight of my year as a small business consultant. In just 12 short weeks these kids turn a passion into a viable idea, complete as much documentation as is required of any adult and come up with practical ways to connect with customers and make money. They bring enthusiasm and positive energy to the process and the perseverance to tie all the loose ends together in a vey short business cycle.”