The Steinbach Chamber of Commerce is launching a brand-new initiative called the Chamber Challenge to encourage young entrepreneurs.
Executive Director Tessa Masi says they are specifically looking for 15- to 18-year-olds.
“We're really excited about this one. Chamber challenge, in essence, is a mini-Dragons Den where students make an entrepreneurial pitch to a panel of judges and there is prize money at stake and we're just excited to see how it goes.”
Masi says students are invited to put together a pitch and apply on the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce website. A panel will then sift through the applications and choose finalists to make their presentations on April 30th.
“For first place we're looking at $1,000, second place $750, and then third place $500 so we're hoping that will be a good incentive for students to want to put together a business pitch.”
Masi says there will be no strings attached to the prize money. She notes the goal is not to fund new businesses but rather it is to help young people see starting a business as a realistic option.
“The goal is to encourage these teens to be thinking entrepreneurially. There are so many businesses that started up here in Steinbach, so many people who have had that mentality and really valued entrepreneurism, that's the goal is to have students thinking 'that could be me.”
Participants can sign up as individuals or as a group. Masi notes they hope applicants really put some thought into their ideas.
“We're looking for someone who's thought about the business plan, the finance side, where you're going to source your supplies from, just looking at the overall picture. Dragons Den and Shark Tank, those are great examples of what we're looking for in terms of the questions that will be asked and what we want the students to have thought through in the process.”
Not only will the pitches themselves be made in front of the panel of judges, but spectators are also welcome.
“Anybody is allowed to come and watch. We're hoping that the people doing the pitches, that they're going to bring their friends and family, but it is open to the public. The chamber is happy to put on this event and showcase what is happening with possible young entrepreneurs in our area.”
Masi says the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce Business Development Committee has been working closely with both the Steinbach Regional Secondary School and the Steinbach Christian School in promoting the Chamber Challenge.
“We've gone to both the high schools and done a pitch where the Chamber has been able to share about what the Chamber does and what the benefits are to starting your own business and then how the Chamber partners with people or provides resources even on our website to help make that happen.”
This is the first time the Chamber Challenge has been run, and Masi says they are incredibly excited to see it take shape.