Saturday, December 3, 2011

Comparing Jamaica and Canada on online information available for student entrepreneurs

A few days ago I posted a comparison on Jamaica and Canada in terms of the provision of entrepreneurship information for youth and students. This topic might very well be a chapter in my dissertation. This is an update to my thoughts on the subject.

In some countries, the opportunities for youth entrepreneurship seem even more abundant. The opportunities available to the Canadian student entrepreneur is even greater. Organizations such as Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE) on their website are dedicated toward collaborating with postsecondary institutions in igniting youth entrepreneurship. An excerpt from the ACE 'About ACE 'on What is ACE states

What is ACE? Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship or ACE is a national, charitable organization dedicated to teaching and igniting young Canadians to create brighter futures for themselves and their communities. Through a collaborative partnership between higher education and industry, ACE delivers pro...1

Provincial governments also provide that service. In Ontario, Canada, the provincial government provides a one stop shop or information portal for youth interested in entrepreneurship to get help and assistance through its Youth Entrepreneurship Info-Guide: Canada Business Ontario on its website:
"This website provides information on federal and provincial business-related programs, services and regulations and includes such topics as starting a business, financing, marketing, management and planning, taxation, exporting/importing, and e-business."
The youth entrepreneurship info-guide specifically provides: 'information on a variety of resources for young entrepreneurs; including tax information, hiring, financing, as well as on various associations and online publications'. The webpage serves like a directory to direct the youth entrepreneur where they can go for information, assistance and services that they need to get started and navigate the process of starting a business in Ontario, Canada.

Apart from Canada Business Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation also provides information and opportunities for youth entrepreneurs to get information, assistance and services to help them enter into entrepreneurship. The goal of the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation as stated on its website is 'to build a strong economy for all Ontarians' by creating a number of programs to support individual economic and entrepreneurial efforts, through programmes including the Next Generation of Jobs Fund , and the Advanced Manufacturing Investment Strategy among others. Specifically for youth entrepreneurs, there are several programmes including a Summer Company programme for youth between the ages of 15-29, that provides 'hands-on business training and mentoring, together with awards of up to $3,000' to help youth start and run a summer business and experience being an entrepreneur. There is also the Ontario Global Edge program that provides international entrepreneurship placement for the 'enterprising student between the ages of 19 and 29' which is currently delivered exclusively by nine post-secondary institutions. Finally, there is the Youth Entrepreneurship Partnerships program that provides 'grants to non-profit organizations to run programs promoting the development of entrepreneurial skills in young people between the ages of 12-29'. 2

Thus much e-government information exists about programmes and services available to Canadian youth and specifically postsecondary student entrepreneurs. The ones examined here are just some among the many sources that exist online for the youth of say Ontario, if not all Canada, to access information regarding entrepreneurship. With such provisions, it is therefore not surprising that recently, a Canadian PhD student wins global graduate student entrepreneur title.3

The comparison is a stark contrast to this researcher's home country of Jamaica, where online government or e-government information is not so targeted toward the youth entrepreneur. In fact, in Jamaica, even though government provides inexpensive information services, youth entrepreneurs still encounter monetary constraints to utilize available offerings. While government established agencies provide training and information for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the information may be scattered across various agencies, and inaccessible through any central portal aimed directly at the youth entrepreneur. Through agencies such as Human Employment and Resources Training Trust National Training Agency (HEART Trust NTA), government may provide entrepreneurship training and other education about an industry or the standards in an industry. Further standards information are available through the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ). Through agencies like Jamaica Promotions (JAMPRO), government may provide information on Jamaica’s investment opportunities as well as opportunities for exports and/or trade. The Government has even established agencies like Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) to provide training, advice, counseling or expertise for SME owners in business planning, marketing planning and other areas essential in growing a SME. And this list is not exhaustive.4

Yet even the list supplied by the Jamaican government do not explicitly mention services targeted toward the youth entrepreneur. This situation begs the question of where are those programmes and services for Jamaican youth, especially the postsecondary Jamaican student, provided by the government to help them to realise their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs?5 In comparison to Ontario, Canada as a province, it is amazing how little Jamaica has not invested as much in programmes and services targeted towards youth entrepreneurship.
1Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE). 'About ACE.'
2Students & Young Entrepreneurs - Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade
Graduate Student Entrepreneur Title
4The (Economic and Social Survey Jamaica 2008) highlights several Government business development services offered in Jamaica (13.2-13.3).
5This question is however beyond the scope of this proposal. To offer an opinion, in my view, Jamaica invests more time and money in developing talents in sports and music, that should really be invested in developing youth entrepreneurial skills.

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