As an organization dedicated to furthering the entrepreneurial goals of its members, it seemed a logical decision for the West Kootenay Women in Business (WKWB) to create a scholarship for youth.
Called the “West Kootenay Women in Business Young Entrepreneur Award,” the funding was received by Mount Sentinel Secondary School student Dillon Hamling at the school’s June 20, 2014 graduation ceremony in South Slocan.
A student of the Mount Sentinel Sequoia program, which offers alternative teaching methods, Hamling was an ideal candidate for the scholarship, which hopes to assist young entrepreneurs who don’t “fit in the ‘box’ come scholarship/bursary time,” according to Nancy Trotman, WKWB founding and organizing member.
Nominated by Sequoia Program Director, Travis Sherstobitoff, Hamling was chosen for the $500 award based on the well-researched business plan for a local food truck called “Mama’s On the Go,” which will feature traditional Russian cuisine, submitted as part of a final year project.
“We are looking to help students with business ideas, who have shown the desire and motivation that it takes to be an entrepreneur,” said Trotman, adding that Hamling was a natural fit.
While the natural outcome of the award is to give funding to graduating students interested in starting a business, the larger intent is to develop a mentoring relationship.
“The obvious aim is to give them some extra seed money for start-up, marketing, etc., but more importantly by showing them that someone has confidence in them and their idea, hopefully giving them that extra push to persevere through the tough times that we as entrepreneurs know are sometimes difficult to weather, especially for young people just starting out,” said WKWB founding and organizing member, Rebecca Vassilakakis.
The teacher’s situation of 2014 however, has proven a tricky situation for developing a formal relationship between the WKWB and Hamling.
“We are intending to form a mentoring relationship with the program. Unfortunately with the strike we have not had the same communication with the recipient as we had hoped to set this up. For upcoming years this will be something we will need to put in place earlier,” noted Vassilakakis.
While the West Kootenay Women in Business is an organization designed to build relationships among businesswomen, the scholarship itself is not limited to females and is open to students throughout the West Kootenay region.
“We want to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in youth and give recipients more resources to have access to,” said Vassilakakis.
Capital for the scholarship came from fundraising events hosted throughout the past year by the WKWB at their monthly lunch meetings through member donations. While this year’s amount was $500, organizers noted that if there is a spike in student interest in the coming years, WKWB will consider increasing the scholarship amount and/or the number of awards given, provided funding is available.
Graduating students are encouraged to begin brainstorming ideas to prepare for the 2015 award nomination cycle.
The West Kootenay Women in Business organization began in May 2011 and currently has over 350 members who attend monthly networking lunches in Castlegar and Nelson, designed to foster and encourage positive business relationships among West Kootenay women. To become a member, make a donation or find out more about the organization, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WKWIB.
And be sure to attend their upcoming annual season kick-off “Business After Business/Parking Lot Party” on September 18 between 5 and 7 p.m. at Krueckl Financial Services on 1444 Columbia Avenue, which is open to all members of the West Kootenay business community, regardless of gender.