The Surrey Board of Trade won the support of business organizations across the province for a focus on youth entrepreneurship at this past weekend’s BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Conference, May 25 – 27 in Victoria.

The Surrey Board of Trade is asking the Provincial Government work with the Federal Government to create a comprehensive youth entrepreneurship strategy, using best practices to:

1.     Optimize the regulatory environment

2.     Enhance entrepreneurship education and skills development

3.     Facilitate technology exchange and innovation

4.     Improve access to finance

5.     Promote awareness and networking

“Given persistently high rates of youth unemployment in British Columbia—at 13.6 percent, more than double the national average—preparing youth to follow an entrepreneurial path is not only an acceptable choice, but also a strategic decision. There are programs in BC and in Canada that introduce youth to career pathways, but not enough focus on developing practical entrepreneurial skills. It will take the combined support and involvement from all sectors, including businesses, to address the need for more support to develop BC and Canada’s future business owners,” said Anita Huberman, CEO Surrey Board of Trade.

The Surrey Board of Trade (SBoT) launched a Youth Entrepreneurship and Advocacy Action Plan in 2016, which is led by a team of youth and business leaders. The goal of the Action Plan is to combat unemployment, promote entrepreneurship and improve economic prospects for Surrey youth through targeted services, events, programming and mentorship.

The Surrey Board of Trade and PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs is a curriculum-based program for grades 4-8 classrooms. Each individual student creates a real business by developing a business plan, product and marketing materials. They get loans, make sales, and donate a portion of their profits to charity. This authentic, hands-on learning experience has proven to be highly engaging for all types of learners. Students develop practical entrepreneurial skills such as creativity, critical thinking and communications that can support them in all areas of life. They also discover that entrepreneurship is a viable career path.

“Surrey Board of Trade also leads a second PowerPlay program called Project Enterprise in secondary school classrooms.”

The Surrey Board of Trade authored this policy. Chamber delegates from across B.C. adopted this policy, among others put forward at the BC Chamber of Commerce AGM.

The BC Chamber AGM and Conference is held in a different B.C. community each year. The event is the largest annual business policy-building forum in the province. Member Chambers of the BC Chamber of Commerce develop and submit policies for consideration by their peers every year. This year, 63 policies were forwarded and were voted on at the AGM policy sessions. The Surrey Board of Trade submitted 8 policies for approval.