UNBC Pilots New Aboriginal Business Program In The Cariboo And Nechako Valley
Due to lack of capacity, First Nation Band Administrations are often unable to take advantage of business opportunities and grants. Through a collaborative partnership between the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and several First Nations Band Administrations and organizations, this project seeks to provide First Nations, youths, low income, and unemployed people with employment skills, resources, and practical business experience.
In 2009, UNBC Continuing Studies piloted an Aboriginal and Small Business Leadership Certificate program in the Williams Lake, Quesnel, and Vanderhoof communities which were hardest hit by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. The success of the pilot program has resulted in more interest in business programs with enhanced Aboriginal content.The courses in the enhanced program were designed to enable the students to write proposals, conduct business planning, and to undertake comprehensive feasibility studies while also gain on-the-job work experience.
The Aboriginal Business Development Program has taken that pilot program to a higher level with seventy three students enrolled at the beginning of the course, of which sixty one were from the Aboriginal communities.
"A number of students have said the program is already helping them get jobs, so it was absolutely worthwhile and I wouldn't hesitate to participate again. What's more, as part of their coursework, the students had to create their own business proposal. Many were so excited about what they came up with that they now plan on turning their business ideas into reality."
Titi Kunkel, Continuing Studies Program Coordinator, University of Northern British Columbia
Positive Economic Impacts
This collaborative project has resulted in twenty-seven students from the Quesnel, Williams Lake and Vanderhoof areas successfully completing the business program, providing them with a Business Development Assistants Certificate.
This project recruited First Nations people and low income or unemployed people in the Cariboo and Chilcotin region. The program has provided them with education and work experience through work placements and classroom work that has boosted their capacity to successfully enter the workforce.
The course work that participants have completed is counted as credits towards a University of Northern British Columbia degree providing successful participants with a jumpstart to higher education. This program will continue to have far reaching economic benfits as many of the people who have gone through it are planning on opening businesses that they created plans for through the program.
TThe program also gave students the confidence to pursue further academic studies.
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