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Prince's Charities Canada adopts Memorial entrepreneurship program

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales shakes hands with Dr. Wilfred Zerbe. Photo Tom Sandler


By Moira Finn

An award-winning Memorial University entrepreneurship program for military personnel will soon be available nationwide thanks to support from the Prince of Wales.

The Prince's Operation Entrepreneur is an exclusive national program for transitioning Canadian Forces members interested in becoming entrepreneurs and is modelled on the successful Based in Business program, created and run by Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) Memorial.

The Prince of Wales announced the program at the Canadian Forces Base in Gagetown, N.B., during the Canadian Royal Tour for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last month. Present for the announcement were Memorial University Chancellor Rick Hillier; Dr. Wilfred Zerbe, dean, Faculty of Business Administration; Professor Lynn Morrissey, SIFE faculty adviser and assistant professor of business; representatives of SIFE Memorial and a number of military graduates of the Based in Business program.

Supported by Prince's Charities Canada, this new program provides entrepreneurial education and business planning support, access to startup and growth financing and specialized business mentoring, plus the opportunity to attend the Based in Business educational boot camp offered by SIFE Memorial.

After making the announcement, their Royal Highnesses, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, met with military personnel enrolled in The Prince's Operation Entrepreneur and delivery partners SIFE Memorial and Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), to learn first-hand how service personnel plan to start and grow their own businesses.

"This is an accolade of the highest order for Memorial's SIFE students and Professor Lynn Morrissey," Dr. Zerbe said. "Military veterans, their families and their communities across Canada will benefit greatly thanks to the business acumen and dedication of these students and Professor Morrissey's leadership and guidance. We are very, very proud."

Prof. Morrissey, SIFE Memorial's faculty adviser since 2004 who has led SIFE teams to numerous regional, national and international competition victories, said the community engagement and student involvement, as well as Based in Business's record of success in assisting military personnel, are the key reasons the Prince's charities foundation chose the Memorial program.

"Based in Business was launched in 2009 and is a proven transition strategy, offering upfront assistance, mentoring and ongoing support," Prof. Morrissey explained. "We are so excited to be able to help bring this program to other parts of the country and it may become a model for similar programs the Prince of Wales wishes to establish and support in other Commonwealth countries."

SIFE Memorial's Based in Business program has already helped 27 Canadian Forces members – 18 of whom have started businesses. For the 2012 program in July, 20 participants are already enrolled. SIFE Memorial plans to run two programs with 40 participants in 2013 and three programs (one in French; two in English) in 2014, with 60 participants in eastern, central and western Canada.