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Youth entrepreneurship, a key to sustainable development

Actu - Blogue DD Desjardins

Special collaboration : 

Cherkaoui Ferdous
Senio Advisor
Social Finance Programme

Inspiring examples

Conversion to high efficiency LED lighting is the segment operated by Lightenco, a Montreal-based company created in 2012 by the young entrepreneur Raymundo del Cojo, four years after arriving in Quebec. Its success is mainly due to an innovative business model that offers public, commercial and industrial companies to reduce their lighting bill with a turnkey service including design, installation, recycling of obsolete materials and even seeking government subsidies. Raymundo del Cojo is now developing this model not only in Quebec and Ontario but also in his native Mexico.

Stéphanie Dupré-Guilbert and Danielle Matte had the audacity to launch in La Sarre, Abitibi, D’Éco-sphère, a company specializing in ecological housing. After studying in Montreal, having traveled around the world, the two women returned to their native Abitibi to exploit a trend considered urban. Their success is due to a range of environmentally friendly products but also to their know-how and advice which help their customers choose greener alternatives. D’Éco-sphère radiates beyond Abitibi since its expertise is sought even in large urban centers.

These two cases illustrate how young entrepreneurs can be a key to sustainable development. The interest of young people for entrepreneurship is not strictly associated with personal enrichment. Their sense of entrepreneurship includes innovation, openness to the world and the willingness to make a difference with environmental solutions. Young people are often the first to invest the new opportunities of the green economy or to introduce changes in traditional sectors.

The entrepreneurial potential of young people

As we know, entrepreneurial dynamism is lower in Quebec than the rest of Canada. The deficit of entrepreneurs in the coming years calls for great mobilization to stimulate the entrepreneurial culture. Young people are part of the solution to these challenges because entrepreneurial potential is stronger among young people than in the rest of the population. (1)

For young people, entrepreneurial ambitions come up against a tough reality. For a young person under 35, entrepreneurship means to be able to succeed despite a precarious financial situation. He or she must assume the start-up costs of a business and at the same time repay student loans. Despite this context, young people in Quebec show a higher propensity to take risks.

Créavenir: Desjardins program stimulating youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion

Technical support and funding are two key factors for business startups. Access to conventional financing may be difficult for several reasons: the high risk associated with the project, inadequate capital, credit history.

Increasing the success rate among young entrepreneurs requires adequate guidance and financing. Based on this approach, the Créavenir program was aunched in 2008 by Desjardins and various partnering community organizations (CLD, SADC or equivalent). The Créavenir financial assistance includes a startup grant and a loan without collateral requirements. This assistance may be used by young entrepreneurs as leverage to facilitate access to other sources of funding. Lightenco and D’Éco-sphère are just some of over 450 business projects that have benefited from Créavenir so far. These are all projects that help diversify the economy and encourage the participation of youth in the community.

Créavenir is part of the Desjardins Solidarity-based finance program that promotes financial inclusion of individuals and entrepreneurs through education and funding measures. 

Source : Indice entrepreneurial québécois 2014, 2015