New OC business program creates more real-world learning for budding entrepreneurs

News September 25, 2020

Posted by Harrison Crerar

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Okanagan College’s School of Business is launching a new program that will teach entrepreneurship and business in a way most business owners would say is key to learning – by doing.

The Experiential Entrepreneurship program will offer an entrepreneurship specialty to the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

Modelled after a long-running and highly successful program at the College’s partner school in Finland, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, the Experiential Entrepreneurship program will see business students design, plan, launch and run their own businesses. Students will also take on projects for local businesses and non-profits designed to introduce them to business and entrepreneurial practices.

“We are excited to provide a truly experiential program that is really a different way to learn and obtain a degree in business,” says Bill Gillett, Dean of the College’s School of Business.

“We know many students learn best by doing so this program will create that opportunity along with essential supports like coaching and guidance from our faculty and community mentors, accelerating students’ learning while they earn their bachelor’s degree.”

Gillett adds that the program will create a number of community benefits, including new business creation, and support for existing businesses and non-profits to explore new revenue opportunities. The program will also create closer ties with students and the business community, with many students choosing to work for the company they helped during their degree once they graduate.

“We’re looking for companies who may have projects for students,” adds Gillett, recommending interested organizations contact the Okanagan College School of Business.

The development of the new program is being supported by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Accelerate Okanagan (AO). RBC is donating $50,000 from its Future Launch initiative, which is focused on empowering Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow.

“We know experience is so important to getting a job, but so hard to come by,” said Nicole Dalton, RBC Community Manager.

“We hope that through our partnership with Okanagan College and our Future Launch initiative we can introduce young people to the adaptable skills of entrepreneurship, empowering them to create their all-important first jobs, gaining experience while solving community problems and innovating along the way.”

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Accelerate Okanagan is also supporting the project through the Okanagan Innovation Fund by contributing a $15,000 investment this year, as well as connections to their community of entrepreneurs. The Okanagan Innovation Fund was created in partnership with Okanagan College to support innovative and collaborative projects that will have a lasting impact in the community for years to come.

“Entrepreneurs drive change and keep our community moving forward. This program is an innovative approach to increasing the number of entrepreneurs and home-grown businesses in the Okanagan,” says Brea Lake, Accelerate Okanagan CEO.

The JAMK entrepreneurship program is highly lauded for its benefits in helping students find employment or launch their own business. Over a 10-year period, the JAMK program has resulted in the below outcomes:

  • Total revenue from companies has surpassed $2.3 million

  • 91 per cent of teams are employed within six months of graduation

  • 37 per cent of students launch their own business within six months of graduation

  • 47 per cent of team entrepreneurs are still entrepreneurs two years later

  • 150 projects have been completed for various companies

Okanagan College’s Experiential Entrepreneurship program plans to launch its first full cohort in September 2022. To learn more about Okanagan College’s School of Business, click here.

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