Over the first few months of 2016, the team at Impact & Main Inc. worked with Centennial College’s Centre of Entrepreneurship (CoE) to prepare a business plan for their program’s relaunch.
The CoE operates in a complex environment of “competing” and complementary services serving a population of over 700,000 just in Scarborough. The new program needed to respond to Scarborough’s ethnic diversity, significant SME retail, service, and foodservice sectors while at the same time accommodating entrepreneurs establishing digital, small scale manufacturing, and logistic and import/export businesses. In general, Scarborough has a younger, less educated population with a much higher percentage of visible minorities compared to Toronto. The lower cost of housing in Scarborough helps make it a desirable location for new immigrants and lower income households.
The characteristics that define Scarborough’s entrepreneurs helped us identify how Centennial can help them start-up businesses or take their existing businesses to the next level. While entrepreneurs have typical needs for advice, mentoring, and workspace, the very nature and philosophical underpinnings of Centennial College itself with its core beliefs in community, globalization and diversity, self-help and responsibility, and entrepreneurship adds a dimension that many other college and university sponsored incubators are less able to do.
The vision we proposed to Centennial College is one of a revitalized Scarborough lead by small and medium local businesses run by a diverse community that addresses the needs of both local and international businesses. We see their impact on the community’s wealth through jobs, community engagement, and self-help. We see Centennial College and the Centre of Entrepreneurship leading and responding to the needs of the community entrepreneurs and their aspirations.
Centennial College and its Centre for Entrepreneurship mission will be to help new Scarborough entrepreneurs realize their business goals by guiding them in the launch and ongoing success of their enterprises through a program of mentoring, advice, support, and providing them with a location for their first foray into business. The CoE’s programs are guided by the needs and desires of Scarborough’s residents, business community, academic community, and government.
The Entrepreneur-in-Training experience
Impact & Main proposed that the first half of CoE’s program is the Entrepreneurs-in-Training program. The program helps first time entrepreneurs and existing business owners to be successful through a program of training, mentoring, follow-up, and collaborative effort.
The Community Incubator Hub
The second half of CoE’s program is to be its relationship with the wider Scarborough community through its Community Incubator Hubs . We proposed opening storefront incubators in business areas in different parts of Scarborough. These storefront Community Incubator Hubs would house the Entrepreneurs-in-Training and other entrepreneurs with room for meetings and seminars and mentoring services. They aim to become community business hubs and the creation of a local business-oriented society.