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YEO Summer Camp: Uncovering the Next Generation of Scarborough Entrepreneurs

May 10, 2022

Pictured are MYSLens, one of the participating groups in the YEO summer camp who are looking to transform their passion and skill for photography into a business.

SCHC and their Mind and Spirit Youth Leadership (MSYL) Program was looking for help to create a social enterprise venture to sustain their program once funding from their Ontario Trillium Grow grant was finished.

Debra McGonegal, Director of Communications and Development reached out to a philanthropic partner, The Northpine Foundation for advice. They suggested broadening the scope of this project, offered to fund a summer business camp for youth and connected SCHC to Enactus Canada who referred us to Ryerson Enactus and the project manager, Alessandro Farelli. Through this innovative initiative and great partnership, 24 youth were enrolled in the Youth Entrepreneurship Opportunity Summer Camp Program and matched with 14 mentors. The following is Debra’s interview with Alessandro as the camp was wrapping up for 2020.

How did you become involved in the Youth Entrepreneurship Opportunity (YEO) Summer camp program?

I got involved early in March when the program was just a concept and hadn’t been created yet. YEO is under the branch of project StartMeUp (SMU) and Enactus Ryerson and I had just taken over as Project Manager (PM). Originally the program was focused on just the creation of businesses for youth through mentorship, but I wanted to include personal and professional development. Eventually, I hired a Co-PM, Zohra, and on top of being the project manager forYEO, I also became one of the mentors for our MYSLens team. I would also plan and facilitate our weekly workshops for the first four weeks of our program.

How did SCHC and MSYL fit into this new project?

SCHC and MSYL were integral to the camp and it couldn’t have run without them. Debra from SCHC secured funding for both mentees and mentors, and would regularly check in with me and my team to provide support and advice. Gnanu, Renee, and Charanjit, plus summer staff from MSYL handled enrollment of youth from their program and the local Scarborough community . They joined weekly workshops and checked in with the youth to provide support and get program feedback. I would also like to commend Gnanu specifically for checking in with me bi-weekly to see if there was any support he could provide to our program along with setting up all of our Zoom meetings. Both the SCHC and MSYL were an absolute delight to work with and I look forward to strengthening our relationship with them.

How did the camp work? What were the goals for Enactus?

For the first month of our camp, the structure was quite similar across all groups. We had weekly workshops (Entrepreneurship, Customers, Marketing, Finance) held on Mondays and bi-weekly workshops held on Thursday by Shopify on business website creation. Each mentor was paid for 10 hours of work per week, while mentees were expected to contribute 20 hours per week. The goal for Enactus Ryerson mentors was to help students with personal and professional growth, and the creation and launch of their own business. Around 80% of the groups were able to create their own business in some shape or form.

What did you learn about mentoring youth?

Everyone has some form of value to provide to our world even if they don’t see it. At the start of our program, many of the youth in my group were quite shy and wouldn’t like to speak during our discussions. However, as we catered more towards their interests, we saw them become more outgoing. A big turning point was asking the youth to present on a topic they were most passionate about. We put a minimum of 5 minutes for the presentations, but most students went over 10 minutes and were quite enthusiastic while presenting. After these presentations, the youth in our group were much more outgoing and willing to put their input into both our discussions and the business they are running.

What did you learn about yourself? And did this camp affect any of your ideas on your future path/s?

What I learned about myself is that I love to see other people grow to become better versions of themselves. Before I started YEO, I already knew that I liked helping others, but this program showed me that my calling is the development of others. I am very excited to continue this program and help both the youth we are working with now as well as working with new youth to help them grow. This camp has impacted my future career path, I know that I will continually be looking for ways to enrich the lives of those around me. When I become financially stable I would like to dedicate the rest of my life (and career) to help develop those around me whether they are a youth or those who are older than me.

What were the end results of the camp?

The result of the camp was quite positive with 7 businesses started and all of the youth growing personally as well. Each mentor plans to keep a relationship with their mentee and meet for one hour per week to check in on both their mentee’s wellbeing as well as the progress they are making with their business. See below for a brief recap of business plan competition to wrap up the YEO summer camp.

Where would you like the YEO camp to go in the future?

Where would you like the YEO camp to go in the future?

I have big plans for YEO in the future. Over the next 2 weeks, I plan to work with my team along with SCHC and MSYL to create a comprehensive action plan to both improve and expand the program for the next 15 months. Ideally, by the Spring of 2021, I would like to bring YEO to other Enactus chapters so we can impact as many youths as possible.

Anything else you would want other youth in Scarborough to know? Students in Enactus?

I would like the youth in Scarborough to know that we are here to help you grow both personally and professionally. We are working to expand so we can help as many of you as possible. You already have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in you, you just might need a little bit of a push. For students in Enactus, I hope you stay tuned for our updates as we plan on expanding our team along with hiring new mentors. For both students and mentors, this program can be integral to your personal development so even if you are unsure, I encourage you to take that leap of faith and join our program.

For youth interested in joining MSYL and/or YEO please email: or call (416)-642-9445 ext. 4473.