Atlantic Youth Entrepreneurship summit inspires students to develop business ideas at home

Students from across Atlantic Canada built their business savvy and bounced ideas off each other this weekend at YES! Atlantic Youth Entrepreneurship summit, an event built around inspiring the next generation of minds in the province to build their dreams here at home.

300 participants met over the weekend to change direction of business in Atlantic Canada

Joanna Nickerson, of the Pond-Deshpande Centre, helped to mix business minds, both old and new, at the YES! Atlantic Youth Entrepreneurship Summit in Fredericton. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Students from across Atlantic Canada built their business savvy and bounced ideas off each other this weekend at the YES! Atlantic Youth Entrepreneurship summit. 

The event is built around inspiring the next generation of minds to build their dreams in their home provinces instead of investing their business ideas elsewhere. 

"There needs to be a shift from the mindset of creating jobs instead of relying of other people to create them for you, so you're not just looking to find work that exists. Because a lot of times, it doesn't exist," said Joanna Nickerson, one of the event organizers. "

Have not province stigma

Nickerson is a social innovation manager of the Pond-Deshpande Centre, an entrepreneurship group at the University of New Brunswick that organized the event. She says New Brunswick's young business minds have to contend with the province's stigma.  

"Everybody knows that New Brunswick has been getting a lot of flak lately for being a have-not province and facing hard economic times," said Nickerson. "A shift needs to happen in how we approach business. That starts here." 

Symone Jennings is a former student of the program and now helps to organize the event. She says the first step to building new, young, business minds in New Brunswick is to stop telling youth to leave the province. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
Symone Jennings, a former student of the program, says changing the mindset of New Brunswickers is a first step to growing their business ideas. 

"Not at one point did I hear them talk about how negative things are. All I heard was how inspiring New Brunswick is, how inspiring Atlantic Canada is and how much they want to make a change in the minds of the people," said Jennings. 

David Boudreau, a 23-year-old student from Bathurst, New Brunswick, says the summit provides students like him the chance to mingle and network with established entrepreneurs and helps to inspire future projects. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
"So the students here, I hope are going to go to their parents, and go to their grandparents and say 'stop, stop telling me that I am going to have to leave because if you tell me that I am going to leave, I am.'" 

More than two dozen speakers and panelists presented at the summit including the Canadian Consul to New England, and former permier, David Alward.

Student David Boudreau, 23 of Bathurst says the chance to network and build relationships with established entrepreneurs has been a huge boost to his future plans.  

"You usually don't have these types of conversations in a formal setting at a university or college, or with family and such, and it also gives like-minded people a chance to gather and to meet and to create a network in the community." 

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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