Aboriginal students get their first taste of entrepreneurship - 2014 BDC E-Spirit business plan competition winners announced

MONTREAL, May 26, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) announced the winners of the fourteenth edition of BDC E-Spirit, a national business plan competition open to Aboriginal students in grades 10 to 12.

"Throughout the 16 weeks of the BDC E-Spirit competition, the participants had an opportunity to explore every facet of the business planning process and discover first-hand what it takes to launch a new venture," said Robert Lajoie, National Director, Aboriginal Banking Unit.  "We hope this experience has led students to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career choice and that they will continue to stay actively involved in their communities."

The three winning teams and their respective schools received total cash prizes in the amounts of $4,000 for Gold, $2,000 for Silver and $1,000 for Bronze. Six Special Achievement awards were also presented to acknowledge merit in the following categories: use of technology; marketing and branding; environmental or community impact; original concept; video and use of mentoring.

2014 BDC E-Spirit Winners:

Project: Open Hands Canoe Journeys
School: Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS), Port Alberni, British Columbia
Students: Lilly Campbell, Alix Jorgensen
Facilitator: Lisa Tremblay
Open Hands Canoe Journeys proposes a therapeutic wilderness adventure camp for at-risk Aboriginal youth. The founders believe a ten-day canoe journey overseen by a qualified instructor, a youth counsellor, an elder and a youth therapist will trigger positive change among struggling Aboriginal teens and empower them to achieve their full potential, increase self-esteem and learn to set goals and overcome challenges. An experienced elder will also introduce project participants to the fundamentals of traditional healing and Aboriginal education.

Project: Stars Tutoring
School: Children of the Earth High School, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Students: Faith Anderson, Brian Connelly, Rebecca Svens
Facilitator: Leigh Brown
Stars Tutoring seeks to help the students succeed with personalized tutoring services for clients aged five to 12. Qualified instructors will facilitate learning and will help increase academic performance by employing a variety of tutoring techniques tailored to each student's individual learning style. Tutoring services cover reading, writing, math, science and everything in between. Flexible hours and the possibility of tutoring at any location make Stars Tutoring a star choice for a child's educational needs.

Project: Les Trois lois de la réussite
School: École secondaire Amik‑Wiche, Lac Simon, Quebec
Students: Yasmina Nail, Aggie-Demi Richmond, Céleste Wabanonik, Edwyne Wabanonik
Facilitator: Patrick Binette
Les Trois lois de la réussite (The three keys to success) aims to establish the first ever catering service run by Secondary V (Grade 11) students at École secondaire Amik-Wiche. This three-tier business concept that involves the school cafeteria, a catering service and a special lunch service for school outings and sporting events would allow the students running the project to maximize profits and achieve enough revenue to fund a trip abroad while building self‑esteem, acquiring new skills and gaining hands-on work experience.

2014 BDC E-Spirit Special Achievement Awards

Best Use of Technology
Step in Our Moccasins, Kitigan Zibi, Quebec

Most Innovative Marketing and Branding
Les Trois lois de la réussite, École secondaire Amik‑Wiche, Quebec

Best Environmental or Community Impact
Les Trois lois de la réussite, École secondaire Amik‑Wiche, Quebec

Most Original Concept
Open Hands Canoe Journeys, Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS), British Columbia

Best Video
Step in Our Moccasins, Kitigan Zibi, Quebec

Best Use of Mentoring
Moose Kerr School, Aklavik, Northwest Territories

About BDC E-Spirit
BDC E-Spirit is a 16 week web-based competition for Aboriginal high school students in grades 10 to 12 that provides interactive business planning resources, online access to mentoring and extensive student networking opportunities, via the web and in person. The 2014 BDC E-Spirit edition involved 158 students in 59 teams from 25 different schools. http://www.bdc.ca/espirit

About BDC
Canada's business development bank, BDC puts entrepreneurs first. With almost 2,000 employees and more than 100 business centres across the country, BDC offers financingsubordinate financingventure capitalsecuritization and consulting services to more than 28,000 small and medium-sized companies. Their success is vital to Canada's economic prosperity.


SOURCE: Business Development Bank of Canada

For further information: Maria Constantinescu, Senior Advisor, Public Relations, Business Development Bank of Canada, (514) 496-7146, maria.constantinescu@bdc.ca


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