By Joel Young, Kelowna Capital News Published: December 18, 2012 01:00 PM
We are about to come to the end of another year in the Okanagan that continues the answer the question about our socio-economic future.
Everywhere I go in my travels, people approach me to discuss their desire to find financing for their entrepreneur project or express a need to find the realistic opportunity for them to pursue a business plan’
Do I enjoy these exchanges? You bet. It is what makes me happy at this stage of my life—to offer my advice and counsel to those who trust my experience, knowledge and networks.
The was a consideration behind a personal commitment to create a provincial non-profit entity, the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society, a few years ago to focus on contributing to the development of entrepreneurial leaders across the valley.
There was also a goal to seek through the society’s formation and development a forum to guide potential entrepreneurs through the challenge of launching their business opportunity to the world.
While our society has been able to accomplish that feat every few months, the society has ow moved to yet another plateau in its transition, recently completing the inaugural valley entrepreneurship conference.
We now ready ourselves for the second such conference in 2013, along with a second entrepreneurship television series via collaboration with Shaw Broadcasting and strive to complete the inaugural Okanagan regional entrepreneurship strategy with many partnerships in the making.
This column, thanks to the Capital News, has been a catalyst to propel our society’s vision of entrepreneurship in the valley toward raising the bar amidst the entrepreneurship resources of which we all have available to us from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos.
All of the above has made myself and our society board very proud of what has been accomplished, but there remains a couple of other important ingredients to the establishment and confirmation of an entrepreneur friendly region here.
These ingredients include the creation of a cohesive, collaborative and collectively committed Okanagan Valley entrepreneurship and technology innovation centre, perhaps housed at a site that would embrace the clear opportunity of its formation and existence for the greater socio-economic good of our regional population for now and the years to come.
I do lean to UBCO and Okanagan College in this regard as a centre location, an example that has been carried out across North America to a success for students, entrepreneurs and the community at large.
This goal will only be achieved when we are able to formally invite and succeed in having the educational institutions and other socio-economic stakeholders agree to play in the sandbox together seriously with undying dedication and commitment.
Early 2013 shall see if this will occur sooner rather than later.
Next and last on my job jar of entrepreneurial dreaming is the mechanics for investment and venture capital for all existing, aspiring and budding entrepreneurs in our Okanagan.
We currently have in place in the Central Okanagan, an Okanagan Valley Angel Investment Network, chaired by Raghwa Gopal, an esteemed angel investor and entrepreneurial coach and mentor to many. As well, recently the VA Angels Forum, an Alberta-based entity with chapters in a few prairie cities has come to Kelowna, an opportunity again to match the right entrepreneur project with the right funding.
So is all this enough? I genuinely feel, delving deep into my many years of experience and knowledge in this field, that I must say an unequivocable…no.
It is my firm belief that perhaps through organizations like the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society, Women’s Enterprise Centre, Community Futures and others, we can create a vehicle for investment and financing that will be leading edge in B.C., Western Canada and the nation.
But only if we collectively have the will to see it through to a successful creation and launch.
So I have put my heart on my sleeve for this Christmas greeting to all of you, and I close my final column of 2013 with my very best and blessed Christmas offering to you and your families and may the year ahead bring you all the joy and entrepreneurial bliss you deserve.