Young girls are getting the opportunity to become young entrepreneurs – thanks to Durham College (DC).
Enactus, a group of student leaders on campus, created a program called Girls EnPower, as a mentorship program for girls aged 11-17, which in turn started a brand called She-Ro in January, 2018.
The main focus of the EnPower program is building confidence, positive decision-making, resilience and other important life skills through the journey of entrepreneurship, says project leader Alexandra Gillis.
The EnPower program created a brand for the young students to build a small business, which the girls called She-Ro.
“We believe entrepreneurship is a phenomenal way to build life skills,” says Gillis.
She explains they guide the girls through the steps of how to start and run their business.
Gillis says in this economy and job market it is imperative girls have equal opportunity and financial independence.
“It’s important to intertwine those two things,” she says.
The first product under the Girls Enpower program was She-Ro blueberry jam, created in February by the 13 young girls in the program.
“We knew we wanted to make an artisan food product,” explains Gillis, a graduate of the Horticulture – Food and Farming program at DC.
She says they make sure the girls know their opinions are valued. They voted on the She-Ro name and the girls helped with packaging and labelling and were involved in the production process.
“We’ve done everything basically in the workshop-style environment,” says Ellis.
DC Marketing student Maryama Ahmed is helping the She-Ro girls.
She was attracted to the idea of social entrepreneurship and wanted to volunteer and help develop her skills.
She says they are hoping to expand the number of girls enrolled in the program.
To get their message out, Girls EnPower reached out to the community by visiting elementary and high schools in Durham. They also try to recruit girls to the free program by telling their story while selling and promoting the She-Ro product.
“A core group of our girls are from an elementary school just down the street, Queen Elizabeth, but it’s open to pretty much anyone,” says Gillis.
Their first creations were different flavours of blueberry jam, ranging from classic, Earl Grey, mint and now this year, they’ve launched apple pie filling and dessert topping.
Sheldon Headley, a Marketing Business Administrative student and the vice-president of Business Development for Enactus says the She-Ro brand encapsulates everything the girls are within themselves.
“Whether it’s confidence, self-esteem or feeling good about their choices,” says Headley.
The girls get to build their entrepreneurial spirit through branding and marketing the product.
The She-Ro slogan is ‘jam made with impact.’
“In this big economy, young people need more than basic skills to make it out there. The girls make up everything, they come up with the recipe, ingredients and made the product themselves,” says Ahmed.
There are also DC faculty and business leaders who come in to help the girls understand marketing, branding, advertising and how to tell their story.
Gillis says she has seen first-hand what this program can do for young girls. She says the girls come out of their shells and become capable team members.
She is pleased to be part of the program and the many journeys this has afforded her and many other young girls.