On June 26 a group of self-employed people from Windsor graduated from a special program called City Thrive, an initiative founded by the Odette School of Business Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) club. SIFE partnered with the City of Windsor to take a select group of individuals and transform them into successful entrepreneurs. The first graduates of the program received a certificate of completion and an appropriate capital asset (operating software, electronics, etc.) to further their businesses. The graduates are leaving the program with the basic skills necessary to continue their businesses into the future and the drive to be successful entrepreneurs.
“When we first approached the City of Windsor regarding this partnership, we had no idea how much of an impact this project would have on people,” said Foad Karimian, SIFE’s Vice-President of Project Management. “All the participants are graduating from the program with a greater understanding of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and skills and knowledge that can be applied anywhere. We hope they choose to stay in this wonderful city of Windsor.”
The City Thrive program began last February with five clients who were each paired with a City Thrive mentor. The mentors coached them on creating business and marketing plans, financial statements, industry analyses and plans for future operations. The mentors also met weekly with their clients to debrief them and to help them improve their various reports. Terri Belcoure, an Employment Case Worker, Self-Employment Division, said that prior to the City Thrive program there were limited resources for self-employed people. “There was nothing to offer the clients but now there is something worthwhile to offer them,” she said. Mary Ellen Bernard, City of Windsor Project Manager, agreed. “We recognized that we were limited in our ability to help people who were self-employed. We were looking for community resources and that’s when we found SIFE.”
SIFE is one of 12 student clubs at the Odette School of Business offering students opportunities to develop valuable leadership skills through supporting their fellow students and giving back to the community.