It’s long been argued that entrepreneurs are born, not made. You supposedly either have it, or you don’t… Until now.
There’s no doubt that the Atlantic economy needs more entrepreneurs. Question is: how can we get them? Many self-starters say you can’t “learn” the desire to be selfemployed. But what if the problem isn’t that there are too few people who want to launch their own business, but a lack of awareness about how to get started? Fortunately, a number of regional colleges and universities have begun offering programs that can help students realize their business dreams. Here, we highlight four different post-secondary entrepreneurial education opportunities.
MBA IN SOCIAL ENTERPRISE AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Newfoundland and Labrador’s only university blazed a trail when it became the first school in the country with an MBA program that required a course in corporate social responsibility. Now, the university has gone a few steps further with a full-time Master of Business Administration in Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. This 12-month program teaches graduate students to mix social responsibility and sustainability with sound business practices. As a part of this degree, students will learn how to launch new business ventures.
Because we are in a province where there is this tradition of supporting one another, the location is perfect for this type of program.
Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, Dean, Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University
Why should people take this program? According to Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, the dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, there are two good reasons to enroll in this program—and reason number one is all about location. “It fits so well with Newfoundland,” she says. “It’s the ideal environment for social enterprise to develop and there’s a big sense of community. People are so resilient and they have learned through experience the value of supporting one another. This is what social enterprise is about. So, because we are in a province where there is this tradition of supporting one another, the location is perfect for this type of program.”
Reason number two, according to Dr. Dostaler, is the school’s established track record and level of support on offer, including strong research and a new Centre for Social Enterprise. “We also have the Memorial Center for Entrepreneurship,” says Dr. Dostaler, “which is for anybody in the university. Faculty, staff, students who think they have a business idea—it’s a safe place to test these ideas.”
BUILDING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
(Nova Scotia Community College & Acadia University)
This 10-month, part-time program has something for every entrepreneur, whether they have an idea for a brandnew business venture they want to pursue, or an established business that needs freshening up. It’s a flexible, web-based program with options for some in-person activities, including one-on-one consulting and networking opportunities. There is a small catch though: currently, this program is targeted at people living in the South Shore and Annapolis Valley regions of Nova Scotia (although technically, anyone could apply).
We’re bringing the academic side from NSCC and pairing that up with the advisory services of the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre to produce a product that we’ve not seen anywhere else.
Sheri Williams, Manager of Entrepreneurship Nova Scotia Community College
Why should people take this course? According to Sheri Williams, manager of Entrepreneurship at NSCC, it’s the collaboration between NSCC and the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre that makes this program especially worthwhile. “We’re bringing the academic side from NSCC and pairing that up with the advisory services of the AEC to produce a product that we’ve not seen anywhere else.” Williams says that it’s the flexibility that makes the program unique—while participants have to complete the course within a certain period of time, learners can do the work whenever they have time.
Better yet, you’ll get credit for all that new know-how. “It’s not just a program where they learn some stuff,” she says. “They’ll also receive credit for that in the bigger picture. So, if they’re applying for positions, or it adds credibility to their business, they’ll get a transcript for those courses.”
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS & ENTREPRENEURSHIP CENTRE
(University of New Brunswick)
While this isn’t actually a program, it is a really good reason for anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset to add UNB to their short list. The International Business & Entrepreneurship Centre runs some incredibly useful initiatives, including Activator, which gives students valuable real-world experience.
Students in our programs are immersed in this ecosystem, where they make connections and work with students and researchers with other faculties at UNB, entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders.
Dr. Davashis Mitra, Dean, Faculty of Administration, University of New Brunswick
The centre also features the Export Partnering Program, a speaker series, and the BMO Financial Group APEX Business Plan Competition. The Canada-wide competition gives students a chance to pitch their business plans to a panel of judges (and an audience). This is a great chance for students to develop their presentation skills— sometimes, it even attracts the attention of investors. The centre is also closely connected with Planet Hatch, a startup accelerator that connects students with business and community leaders and entrepreneurs, offers great mentorships and networking opportunities and, get this, has Picaroons beer on tap.
Why should people go to UNB for entrepreneurship? According to the dean of the Faculty of Administration, Devashis Mitra, it’s all about the well-rounded experience. “IBEC contributes to the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, which includes UNB’s Pond Deshpande Centre, TME Centre, as well as entrepreneurship hubs like Ignite Fredericton, Planet Hatch, and agencies like NBIF, among others,” he says. “Students in our programs are immersed in this ecosystem, where they make connections and work with students and researchers with other faculties at UNB, entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders. The whole experience broadens their perspective so they can appreciate first-hand how the business and entrepreneurial tools they gain from our programs can be put to use for any project or enterprise, whether for profit or for non-profit. We like to think they’re prepared for anything.”
BBA WITH A SPECIALIZATION IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
(University of Prince Edward Island)
Like most entrepreneurial programs, this four-year degree teaches people to analyze and research entrepreneurial business practices, and offers the opportunity to develop a new venture of their own. The difference at UPEI is that the Faculty of Business is linked with PEI business incubator Startup Zone, which offers students support for their own initiatives. The faculty is also supported by Synapse, the school’s Technology Transfer Unit, which handles things like licensing and patenting.
The first graduating class was only six or seven students, but three of them have already banded together to form a company…
Dr. Robert Gilmour, VP Academic and Research, University of Prince Edward Island
UPEI has also expanded its entrepreneurial efforts to the social sciences, thanks to a new program called Applied Communications, Leadership, and Culture (ACLC). According to Dr. Robert Gilmour, UPEI’s Vice-President Academic and Research, the program is connected with the Lucy Maud Montgomery Institute, and is designed to make art students aware of “the potential for developing new forms of education, new forms of communication, and new structures for leadership.”
Why should people consider UPEI? Dr. Gilmour says it’s the UPEI School of Sustainable Design Engineering (SSDE) that really sets the school apart. This four-year program uses a project-based curriculum where the students meet with industry partners in small groups. In the early years, those projects are relatively simple, and they get increasingly complex in years three and four. “The program really only has been in place for a couple of years, but we’re already seeing some successes,” says Dr. Gilmour. “The first graduating class was only six or seven students, but three of them have already banded together to form a company, and that company actually is under contract from the university to create a transportation system between the main campus and one of our satellite buildings.”