Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Cultivating Entrepreneurs

Danielle Francis

When Danielle Francis first enrolled in the Adult Learning Program at her local Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) campus, she thought she was taking steps towards a career in practical nursing. But a home renovation dilemma soon catapulted her into a whole new world of entrepreneurship...

While stripping, repairing and reinstalling wall mouldings in her home, Danielle came up with a concept for magnetic mouldings to make the chore easier.

One of her NSCC instructors suggested she submit her concept to the college’s Ideas Competition, a program which encourages innovative thinking and creativity among students.

She won first place.

“A community college like ours is at the very core an entrepreneurial institution,” notes Sheri Williams, Entrepreneurship Training Coordinator at the College.

“We inherently embrace the notion that entrepreneurial skills are transferable skills—whether a student works for a small business, creates the next social enterprise, works for a corporation or not-for-profit, or starts the next RIM.” 

To this end, the college’s Y.E.S. (Your Entrepreneurial Self) initiative embeds entrepreneurial skills into all educational programs with the aim to not only support the students who dream of starting their own business, but also to cultivate entrepreneurial minds in those who don’t.

“The key,” says Sheri, “is to help students realize the value of entrepreneurial skills—things like risk taking, seeing opportunity where others don’t, resourcefulness and passion.”

“How many CEO’s don’t want all their employees to think like a CEO?  Not many. How many not-for-profits can exist without being entrepreneurial?  Not many.”

“The question for us at the College is not, ‘Are you an entrepreneur?’  The question is: ‘What kind of entrepreneur are you?’”

According to Sheri, assistance from ACOA and other organizations has helped them add resources and tools in entrepreneurial skill development, develop partnerships with local community resources, and publicly promote their successes.

Statistics show that 94% of the school’s employed graduates remain in Nova Scotia, so Sheri feels the impact of this investment can be profound.

“Rural areas of Nova Scotia in particular are looking for new ways to ensure the vitality of their communities. Cultivating more entrepreneurial minds is one way for us to do our part to secure those futures.”

As for Danielle, she is now awaiting a full patent on her magnetic mouldings ― and proving that a creative idea can indeed go a very long way in the world of entrepreneurs.

Published September 4, 2012