Armed with a degree, Julie Snache was feeling restless and unsatisfied with her career. She traded in her full-time job in Waterloo for the opportunity to pursue Georgian’s new graduate certificate in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management.
Now, in the final stretch of the program, Snache is about to launch her own business – OrigiNative Designs. She’ll customize and sell dream catchers with one-of-a-kind design elements.
“Once I establish a customer base and web presence, I’ll expand the store to include the work of other Aboriginal artists,” says Snache, who’s been making dream catchers most of her life. “There aren’t a lot of companies that provide authentic Aboriginal products. I want to create a space that will allow artists to keep control of their intellectual property while celebrating the indigenous cultures alive and thriving in Canada.”
Snache has received support – from creating a business plan to overcoming challenges – through Georgian’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre. The centre is part of a $1.5-million gift Henry Bernick gave to the college, encouraging local innovation through programming, mentorship and training.
“It’s empowering to know if there’s a need for a product or service, that with the right tools and support, you can launch a business to meet that need,” says Snache. “The ability to be entrepreneurial isn’t limited by age, race, gender, credentials or skills. All of these things, in combination, can help you create something of value.”
Georgian launched two entrepreneurship programs this year, the one-year graduate certificate Snache is enrolled in and a two-year Business – Entrepreneurship diploma. The college is also moving forward with a strategy to infuse entrepreneurial principles not only into these two programs, but throughout its entire curriculum – from programs in technology to health and wellness, and more.
“Our goal is to prepare graduates to become not only job seekers, but job creators,” says President and CEO, MaryLynn West-Moynes. “We know the economic vitality and long-term prosperity of our region depends on the growth of small and medium-sized businesses. Whether our graduates start their own companies or bring practical and innovative thinking to existing businesses, the principles of entrepreneurship and innovation they learn at Georgian will contribute greatly to their success and to the success of our communities.”
West-Moynes says this is just the beginning. Students will be encouraged to think entrepreneurially in every aspect of their lives. Georgian recently launched the Community Education Partnership Centre at its Orillia Campus, where students are taking on the role of “social entrepreneurs,” connecting with non-profit organizations through such activities as applied research, projects and volunteering.
“In order to become adaptable in a world that changes every day, we need a differentiated way of thinking,” notes Snache. “As graduates, we may become business owners who create new processes and innovations, or intrapreneurs who provide employers with creative ideas. Either way, entrepreneurial thinking could be the seed of some of the greatest accomplishments we’ve yet to see. Institutions like Georgian that foster a culture of innovation will be ahead of the game.”