September 28, 2020

BY AARON CRECES

Do you have a great business idea that you want to get off the ground, but don’t really know where to begin?

If that’s the case, the Summer Company program may be just what you need.

Operated by the Ontario government since 2001, Summer Company offers up to $3,000 in grants, as well as advice from prominent local business leaders, so students can get their dream business projects organized and off the ground. Past student companies have ranged from web design, tourism and video production to food, travel and makeup services.

Francis Tousignant completed the program in 2012, hoping to open a performing arts centre in Sudbury. His business, known as SirKaFran (or “Fran’s Circus), offered technical management services, set production and circus workshops. The Sudbury resident talked about how exciting it was to get his project started.

“It’s an amazing feeling really,” Tousignant said. “It’s a lot of work … but it’s all worth it. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment. I’m a true believer in doing what you love, and well, I love doing what I do so it rarely feels like work.”

The SirKaFran founder continued to run his business following the completion of the program, utilizing skills that the Summer Company program helped to nurture.

Tousignant said the program helped him with management skills the most.

“Time managing, budgeting, communication skills and networking. It even brought my self-confidence up. I’ve also developed organization skills.”

“Since the Summer Company program I am still running my business … Not only do I get more work, now I have to hire others to help me because of the high demand.”

The Sudbury resident said the program is a great start for enterprising students, but they should keep their eyes open for additional options.

“I would definitely recommend the Summer Company program to Conestoga students, but I would also recommend looking for other possible grants,” he said.

”Specifically, if you know like I did, that you’d keep your business running after the summer.”

You could be eligible to receive up to $3,000 in grants if you are a student up to age 29 who is returning to school and is a Canadian citizen. You also can’t work more than 12 hours a week at another job while in the program.

The application deadline is May 23, so there’s lots of time to check if you’re eligible to get some financial aid and sound advice to get your business started.

For more information on the Summer Company program and how to apply, visit www.ontario.ca.

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