Teaching business basics
By Aimee Sheppard
Amid all the big names and big budgets at the Students in Free Enterprise World Cup, members of Memorial’s chapter of Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE) earned international acclaim for a student-organized, low-budget project that taught business basics to young people in Labrador.
In October, Meghann Comerford, a B.Comm. (Co-op) student and member of ACE Memorial, was invited to the HSBC Financial Literacy Forum held in Toronto as part of the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) World Cup event. The invitation came after forum organizers reviewed how she helped to turn a $1000 US scholarship from HSBC into a business program that targeted Aboriginal youth.
Ms Comerford and fellow ACE members John Hurley and Angela Dyke partnered with the Native Friendship Centre to deliver a two-day Youth in Business conference in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area.
“When we explored the idea with the Native Friendship Centre they really liked the idea of having Memorial students work with Aboriginal youth,” said Ms Comerford.
“There were 14 young people in the class and we tried to get them to think about the financial side of owning your own business,” said Mr. Hurley. “We ran a simulation exercise where they were owners of retail store. We got them to think about sales, inventory, pricing and how they would market products to people in their area.”
“There aren’t a lot of young people who choose entrepreneurship as a potential career,” he added. “It’s still kind of a mysterious occupation. Activities like this conference help young people to expand their list of career possibilities. “
It also open doors for the people delivering the programs. “Joining ACE gives you a competitive edge when you go out in the work world,” said Ms Comerford. “And it’s not just for business students. ACE gives you real world experience in tackling all kinds of issues.”
“A program like SIFE has taught me how students from different backgrounds can help solve much larger projects,” added Mr. Hurley. “Instead of just writing a marketing plan or looking at a balance sheet, I can help solve a broader social issue.”
But despite their community-minded projects and long list of awards, ACE admits not everyone supports their initiatives. “We get a lot of ribbing from students in other faculties who think happiness for us is a balanced budget or they call us sell-outs,” said Ms Comerford. “But there’s so much more to us than just business.”
“I think the word ‘entrepreneurship’ in our name turns people off,” said Mr. Hurley. At the SIFE World Cup, the championship team from ESSEC Business School in Paris was made up of 10 core members from seven faculties and eight countries and the team from Drury University in the United States has 43 student members who represent 17 programs of study.
“Where we are the only university in the province, we feel like there are so many economic issues at home that we can all contribute to,” said Mr. Hurley. “We want to have the strongest students from across campus to be members of ACE Memorial.”