11th annual Local Biz Expo and Trade Show

It was a busy turnout for the Local Biz Expo and Trade Show.

Around 300 people attended the show at the Ajax Convention Centre hosted by the Ontario Self Employment Benefit program (OSEB) on March 10.

The program helps entrepreneurs establish their business through a 42-week training period.

At the end of the week, clients are given the opportunity to attend a trade show, which is provided for them. The show is also to help vendors meet clients and other businesses.

This year was the 11th trade show by the OSEB program. There were 71 vendors with businesses ranging from gel nail salons, cleaning services, window installations and much more.

Tina Wieringa, program coordinator for OSEB, says entrepreneurship is becoming more popular in today’s workforce.

“Entrepreneurship is something where it’s really your only option in order to guarantee employment for yourself,” says Wieringa. “Traditional employment no longer guarantees any income for you, you can be laid off any day without any notice, whereas an entrepreneur, you have the option to make your own money and continue on your business on a daily basis.”
According to a 2012 economics report by CIBC, more than 500,000 Canadians were in the process of starting up their own business. According to Statistics Canada, there are more people over the age of 50 starting up their own business than any other age group.

At the Local Biz Expo and Trade Show, students of the OSEB program are expected to participate in the trade show as part of their entrepreneurship training.

Rachelle Foster, an OSEB participant was one of the vendors at the tradeshow promoting her new business.

“I’m a certified hypnotist, I also do past life regression and I do Reiki therapy, so it’s holistic healing is what I offer,” she says.

Foster spent 30 years working in administrative work in health care before she decided to become an entrepreneur.

“I was out of work with no prospects for the foreseeable future, and I wanted to do something different with my life,” says Foster. “I wanted a different life for myself, one in which I would have some measure of satisfaction and fulfillment.”

Foster says she first saw an ad for OSEB when she was out of work.

“I was on employment insurance and saw an ad for the OSEB program.  I didn’t apply right away because it looked like it was more trouble than it was worth,” she says. “I was told it was hard to get into the program and I could be hitting my head against the wall for nothing, but I eventually decided I had nothing to lose by trying.”

The first time Foster applied she wasn’t accepted but decided to apply again.

“I decided to try a second time, and was successful.  That alone gave me a sense of accomplishment and hope for the future,” she says. “Something that is really important for someone who felt they were at a dead end.”

Foster says if she could give any new entrepreneur one piece of advice, it would be to establish a solid business plan before approaching programs such as OSEB.

She also says networking and building relationships is another key element.

“There are some really amazing people in Durham that I would never have met without attending networking events,” says Foster.

Most booths offered samples of their work, slideshow presentations and pricing of their products.