It’s not every day you find a handful of high school students who are passionate about business and all that it entails. It’s even rarer to find a group aiming to use that passion to inspire their peers to succeed.
After attending an event that featured speaker former Dragon’s Den panelist Brett Wilson, a handful of Belmont students were inspired to learn more about entrepreneurship and innovation.
And so, the Belmont Student Entrepreneur and Innovation Club was born. The purpose of the club is simple: to inspire and empower students to come up with innovative ideas to change their community for the better.
“We want to create change in the school through innovation and creativity,” said club president Aiden Lindal.
He and vice-president Cam McMicken have been spearheading the initiative with late-night phone calls, brainstorming sessions and meetings with school administrators.
“We want to raise the (grade point average) of the school,” Lindal said.
On a scale out of 10, schools are annually ranked based on their provincial exam marks. The boys said Belmont only scored a 4.8, a number they feel doesn’t represent the student body at all.
Their plan is to make sure the wealth of intelligence of their peers is measured correctly. As such they want to help schoolmates meet their full potential by making sure the student body is fuelled with proper nutrition.
The Grade 11 duo have hit the ground running and are working towards starting their own café within the school.
“We’re in the midst of finding a supplier,” said McMicken, noting that the plan is to “get students involved and fed better.”
Added Lindal: “We’re changing the nutritional aspect of the school.”
The pair are careful to explain they aren’t out to knock Belmont’s current food services, but just want to offer more choices so students don’t have to leave school to find different food options.
They also looked into offering a free breakfast program for students who need it, but discovered Belmont already has a program in place.
They found that not many students know about it and are focusing on helping to promote that program so no one goes hungry.
Belmont principal Ray Miller supported the idea of a student-run shop and noted that no one will be able to keep these boys down once they get an idea in their heads.
Lindal and McMicken are not just focused on nutrition. Lindal said the café would be a way for students to learn life skills that they could translate into jobs in the community. The pair formed the idea of the café as a way to expand students’ business skills outside the classroom.
“You learn the fundamentals, but you don’t get to apply them,” McMicken said, adding it was a way for students to get “involved with local entrepreneurs.”
The fledgling entrepreneurs have Langford’s mayor in their corner.
“Stew is a big advocate,” McMicken said of Mayor Young, who gave him his first job. “Getting that first job is the hardest.”
That’s why they want to get other students, not just Entrepreneur Club members, involved in the café once it is up and running; so they can “be excited to come to school and plan for the next day,” McMicken said.
The club, which currently has 10 members, surveyed the Belmont student body to see if there was any interest in taking part. The response was positive and students expressed interest in helping the group with its future plans.
The group intends to solicit further feedback, specifically regarding the café, and wants to partner with different classes at Belmont to work on areas such as branding for the initiative.
The club even has its own speaker event planned for Dec. 11 in Belmont’s auditorium. Confirmed guests include Qoola frozen yogurt bar founder Warrick Chu and OrganicLives CEO Preet Marwaha and Young, who owns the Alpine Group of Companies.
The main goal of the conference “is to get people talking,” Lindal said. “So they can inspire others to create change.”
With their evident passion and drive, who knows, these boys might just end up on Dragon’s Den themselves one day in the near future.