The MIGHTY Program's goal is to demonstrate entrepreneurship as a viable career option to the youth of Hamilton.

By Lorenzo Somma
Published September 03, 2014

Last year the Industry Education Council of Hamilton saw its pilot project Mentors In Greater Hamilton Teaching Youth (MIGHTY) Entrepreneurship Program succeed with 22 student participants from four schools in both HWDSB and HWCDSB participate in the program, and 12 graduates.


MIGHTY participants

Thanks to the support of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment and several other community partners, IEC of Hamilton is proud to be providing this amazing program for a second year.

The MIGHTY Program's goal is to demonstrate entrepreneurship as a viable career option to the youth of Hamilton. Using experiential learning and mentorship as the primary mode of instruction, the MIGHTY program will prepare all participants for small business ownership over 14 experiential learning classroom 'Munch and Learn' sessions.

MIGHTY's curriculum is divided into two main phases: Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Applied Entrepreneurship. The first phase will be implemented between September and December of the 2014 school year, while the second will run from January to April of 2015.

MIGHTY has the ambitious goal of challenging over 40 youth from four high schools in both the HWCDSB and the HWDSB, to gain the skills and experience that entrepreneurship brings. Further to that ambition is our goal of matching every participant with a mentor. What follows is the overview of the Program.

Curriculum

For many participants in MIGHTY, the program will be their first experience with the concepts and actions associated with entrepreneurship. It is not merely MIGHTY's goal that each student write a business plan, but that each gain authentic experience with all of the actions, attitudes and knowledge an entrepreneur requires.

MIGHTY assumes that all participants begin with more or less the same entry level information into small business ownership. This requires a strategy to provide a base level and common experience as the foundation of knowledge and experience in which a constructivist climate thrives.

The general outlook of an experiential classroom is: iterative, integrative and engaged.

  • Iterative: Building on what is already know to move subject by subject towards a "Bigger Picture."
  • Integrative: Connecting each subject to the larger, more complex whole, while reflecting and conceptualizing the relationships between subject, each other and the whole.
  • Engaged: Mentees "emotionally" and physically involved in the experience being assimilated.

Learning Climate

The curriculum for MIGHTY has been designed to be iterative, integrated and engaged. The aim is to provide a classroom climate based on constructivist principles, in which participants build on former knowledge and experience.

Student participants are active, engaged and reflective to the experiences presented during each classroom activity. Much like an entrepreneur, the MIGHTY participants are encouraged to manage their own learning, rather than being told what to do and when to do it.

Success in this environment is based on a willingness to reorganize or alter an existing conception of a topic, then apply experiences to the students' own business idea.

The goal is to provide each participant the knowledge and experience necessary to not only draft a basic business plan, but to also take on the skills and mindset required to run their own business as a full time job.

Successful participants will be given the opportunity to put their business into action through one of several small business grant opportunities, most notably the Ontario Summer Company Program (OSCP).

Mentorship

Mentorship plays a critical role in MIGHTY in which mentors engage with students (the mentees) in each session as instructor and/or one to one coaches. In this role Mentors act as guides, cheerleaders and resources for experience, information and support.

Each class opens with a mentor acting as a guide for the given topic, while providing a narrative about their own life journey and how they came to be in front of the class sharing insights on the given topic.

Through a mentor's own story, mentees can make the emotional connection to the subject matter, which is an asset to fully immerse themselves in the activity and the experience to follow.

Mentors follow their personal narrative with an activity designed to provide mentees direct, hands-on experience to the subject matter. Mentees then work with mentors, either one to one or in small groups, to reflect on the experience provided by the activities.

After reflecting, mentees conceptualize what they have learned and apply it to their own business idea. This is experiential learning in action.

MIGHTY is always looking for mentors to share life experiences as instructors or to work one to one with aspiring entrepreneurs. While having a small business background is an asset, it is by no means a requirement.

Any individual wishing to learn more about how to get involved can contact a MIGHTY representative.

Introduction to Entrepreneurship

To set the foundation for the iterative experiences that are to follow, the first two sessions use an activity know as Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) certification.

ICE serves as an introduction to entrepreneurship by providing participants the basic knowledge and experience into what entrepreneurship is, how it is used to solve a problem and how it connects an idea to a marketplace.

During this activity, students are divided into small teams and provided with a list of problems to solve, for which they must design a product that will support the solution. Teams are provided the basic materials of a sheet of paper, scissors, a pen, a few pieces of tape and 1000 "ICE Bucks."

Once their solution is designed, teams send a representative to the "Merchant," whose variety of base materials, which are incredibly overpriced, range from $100 elastic bands and paper clips, to $500 disposable gloves and pie plates.

Teams are encouraged to haggle, trade, barter, sell and beg for base materials with other teams. This hands-on activity results in each team building a product for which they will try to market to fellow classmates between sessions.

The second session has each team presenting their product and marketing attempts to the rest of their peers, which concludes with each student reflecting on the activity as a whole by completing a simple one page business plan.

The ICE activity is used to provide the iterative component, while the following sessions will utilize and allow each participant to integrate new experiences into building a faux business plan.

Engaged students apply each new lesson/experience to become entry level entrepreneurs. The session topic preceding this opening activity, range from basic product and service plans to basic marketing and financial principles.

Applied Entrepreneurship

By the end of the first half of the MIGHTY Program (September to December), participants experience the basics of entrepreneurship.

During the second half of the program (January to April), participants will utilize their newfound experiences and apply them to their own small business idea.

Each session during the second portion of MIGHTY will focus activities on applying the experiences from the first portion, to developing a unique product and/or service. Participants are provided experiences in entry level marketing, finances and operations.

Results

Not only will participants have a completed business plan by the end of MIGHTY, but also the basic knowledge and experiences to take their small business idea and make it small business reality.

MIGHTY encourages all participants to enter their business plans into a variety of programs and grant opportunities, designed to help young people start small businesses. This includes the Ontario Summer Company Program (OSCP) and other programs that will provide the real bucks to their start-ups.

Finally, all participants are invited to a final event that recognizes the dedication and effort of each aspiring entrepreneur.

The MIGHTY PITCH event is designed to emulate the best quality of Lions Lair and Dragon's Den, allowing each MIGHTY graduate to "pitch" their business idea to a panel of (friendly) community judges.

MIGHTY PITCH will be held in April of 2015 at Innovation Park through our MIGHTY partners at Innovation Factory. Top pitches are given an award and resources to help make their small business dreams a reality.

If you would like to provide additional resources or funds to the MIGHTY PITCH you can get involved.

Conclusion

Last year IEC of Hamilton ran the pilot of the MIGHTY Program, which involved 22 participants from 4 schools, 12 final graduates and 3 participants gaining entry into the OSCP. Our MIGHTY PITCH had over 70 guests witness the efforts of 8 amazing presenters.

IEC of Hamilton continues to build on the success of our pilot year. Working with our supporting partners (see below) and community mentors, MIGHTY stands ready to demonstrate entrepreneurship as a viable career choice to the youth of Hamilton.

Whether participants choose to start their business right await and/or add the experiences to their Individual Pathways Planner (IPP), the skills and experiences of entrepreneurship will stay with them the rest of their lives.

The MIGHTY Program is the embodiment of IEC of Hamilton's mission "To foster partnerships among industry, business, education and other community groups in greater Hamilton, that support experiential learning opportunities for all learners."

We are excited to begin our second year and welcome you to become part of MIGHTY's continued success. MIGHTY Partners: Government of OntarioHWDSBHWCDSBInnovation Factory,Hamilton Economic DevelopmentCity of HamiltonTeachers Credit UnionSmall Business Enterprise CentreMcMaster UniversityMohawk CollegeRedeemer University CollegeVolunteer HamiltonYEP Hamilton.

Posted
AuthorLorenzo Somma