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Youth For Entrepreneurship: a life-changing program launched by the YMCA powered by the Desjardins Group

Recently, the YMCA of Greater Toronto partnered with the Desjardins Group and launched a one-of-a-kind entrepreneurship program, Youth For Entrepreneurship (Y4E). Aspiring entrepreneurs in select provinces can enroll and have access to more than 60 workshops to refine their knowledge and skills. 

From a small idea developed by George Williams in London, England to now, the YMCA has been around for more than 170 years and has acquired more than 1000 locations across Canada. The Y has always had a mission to provide golden opportunities to help unlock the potential of youth in the community. The Youth For Entrepreneurship program is a natural progression for the Y in creating opportunities for young people to embrace and understand the entrepreneurial spirit. 

We had a quick chat with the General Manager, Adela Colhon, at the YMCA of Greater Toronto for further elaboration on the ambitious opportunities offered by this program! 

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Hello! The Youth for Entrepreneurship program looks like a very exciting resource for aspiring entrepreneurs. Please give us a quick introduction to the Youth for Entrepreneurship program.

The YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Youth for Entrepreneurship program, powered by Desjardins, is designed to ignite the entrepreneurial ambitions of youth across Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. The program strives to engage and build aspirations of youth participants in hands-on learning, awareness-raising, and sharing of possible pathways for entrepreneurship and digital literacy opportunities and resources to apply to real-life experience!

Who are you hoping to see apply for this program? What are the requirements for kids who want to participate? 

This program is designed for youth interested in exploring entrepreneurship opportunities. Participants must, however, be between 15-24 years of age and must reside in one of the provinces served, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. 

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What kind of time will participants be putting into the program? 

Participants can choose what works for them based on the programs offered. Participants that enroll in at least three of more than 60 available workshops offered can earn a certificate of completion. Workshops range from one hour to an hour and a half. Participants are more than encouraged to continue taking workshop classes and training following completion to gain a well-rounded perspective of entrepreneurship and digital literacy. 

What was the inspiration to create the Youth for Entrepreneurship program? 

The inspiration behind the Youth for Entrepreneurship program is to inspire today’s youth to become the next generation of skillful and successful entrepreneurs. The YMCA of Greater Toronto, in partnership with the YMCA’s across Canada, are always seeking new and innovative ways to offer youth opportunities for growth, well-being, and equity to reach their full potential. 

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Can you paint a picture of participating in one of the Youth for Entrepreneurship program workshops? What should the aspiring entrepreneurs expect when they walk in the doors or log on to a workshop? 

The Youth for Entrepreneurships’ weekly business-related workshops will focus on five themes – foundational knowledge and inspiration, entrepreneurship opportunities, digital literacy, financial knowhow, as well as marketing, and social media – all foundational topics to support making an educated choice about pursuing an entrepreneurial path. 

What are your personal hopes and aspirations for this program? What is the thing that you, Adela, hope to see emerge from the Youth for Entrepreneurship program? 

The YMCA of Greater Toronto and Desjardins hopes to see participants emerge from the program with the inspiration to dive into pursuing their passions, exceeding their own expectations, taking on new challenges, and above all, believing that anything is possible. By participating in this program, participants will learn that being an entrepreneur is a real and viable possibility for them. There are supports along the way and we are looking forward to celebrating their success!

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How do you see the Youth for Entrepreneurship program evolving and expanding moving forward? 

The YMCA of Greater Toronto will constantly measure its impact to ensure that what we offer is up to date, relevant and needed – all the feedback we receive will be instrumental in informing our future approach. We hope to be able to continue and expand the program– to reach many more thousands of youth participants across Canada!

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Thank you so much for your time! Where can we find more information about the Youth for Entrepreneurship program?

A: To learn more about the YMCA’s Youth for Entrepreneurship program and to register for a workshop, visit

Riya Madaan