Windsor, Ontario boasts one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada. This city — which is located directly across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan — has always been heavily dependent on the automotive industry. As much of the automotive manufacturing industry moved overseas in recent years, thousands of people in Windsor lost their jobs. As a result, the city has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
As someone currently living in a city in the midst of a severe economic downturn, I understand all too well the realities of large-scale layoffs and unemployment – particularly how they impact your finances. Despite being a generally financially savvy person, even I got a financial literacy education in these circumstances.
I also understand how entrepreneurship can be a solution to job insecurity.
Before I left traditional employment to run Money After Graduation full-time, I was a consultant to early-stage start-ups. I helped entrepreneurs at every stage of business growth, from concept to launch. It was a nice job, with a good salary and challenging work. But more than that, I had the opportunity to help people realize their dreams. Calgary itself is a very entrepreneurial city, and there’s no shortage of ambitious people with great ideas. Being part of the start-up community and delivering the resources entrepreneurs needed in order to succeed was incredibly rewarding work. I left for the only reason I feel is worthy of leaving: to run my own company.
I handed in my letter of resignation at a time when most people were being laid off from their jobs.
As the price of oil continued its downward spiral, my friends and family, as well as tens of thousands of other Albertans, were let go. The worst of it is that it’s still not over. Thousands of people are still losing their jobs here each month, and there still seems to be no sign of it stopping anytime soon. Needless to say, job loss wreaks havoc on your personal finances. However, a solid understanding of financial literacy can help you manage your money better through challenging times in your career.
Quitting a great job in the middle of an economic downturn is taking a leap without a safety net — or so people think. Now that I’ve been self-employed for 5 months, I understand better than ever that working for yourself is one of the least risky things you can do. If you can create a business that supports you, you will have a kind of job security you can’t get anywhere else: you can’t be let go. If it were practical, I’d wish everyone were self-employed in whatever capacity suited them best — as a freelancer, a business owner, a consultant. I understand that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, but for those who it is a good fit, it’s one of the best investments you can make in your long-term financial security and happiness. This is why I am so impressed with organizations that help people make the leap into self-employment, and one of my favorites is Enactus.
Enactus is a global non-profit organization that seeks to better the lives of others through entrepreneurship.
Enactus is a community of student, academic, and business leaders that are committed to making the world a better place through entrepreneurship. They focus on empowering students to take entrepreneurial action to improve the lives of those around them. Enactus currently operates in 36 countries at over 1,700 universities. They host a series of regional and national competitions which provide teams an opportunity to showcase the impact of their outreach projects.
The Enactus team at the University of Windsor was named one of the 2016 Capital One Financial Education Challenge Regional Champions for their CityThrive program. They will be one of six teams competing at the Enactus national competition in Toronto on May 3.
The Capital One Financial Education Challenge
The purpose of the Capital One Financial Education Challenge is to empower Enactus teams to identify, create and deliver projects that address a specific and unique financial education opportunity in their community with the aim of improving livelihoods. Teams, like the one behind the CityThrive project at the University of Windsor, have to prove how they used financial education to improve livelihoods in their community in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way. The challenge is just one of the initiatives that Capital One is involved with to help empower Canadians to make wise financial decisions.
One Enactus team is located at the University of Windsor, where students operate a program called CityThrive.
CityThrive is a 12-week program offered through the Enactus team at the University of Windsor that helps people on social assistance achieve financial stability through entrepreneurship. To learn more about what they do and the impact their incredible program has on the local community, check out this incredibly inspiring video below:
Students from the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor are paired with people on social assistance who want to start their own business. The students provide one-on-one mentorship, financial guidance, and various supports through the CityThrive program to individuals who are looking to become entrepreneurs.
By lifting 11 people off of social assistance, CityThrive has saved the City of Windsor over $330,000
Some of the beneficiaries who completed the CityThrive program have grown their businesses large enough to hire employees, which further amplifies the reach of this initiative.
The impact on the small business owners lifted off of social assistance is tremendous, but the impact on the students who mentor them shouldn’t be overlooked! Finding opportunities for students to get real-world experience while still in school isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely essential. This is the goal of the Enactus program and the Capital One Financial Education Challenge. Even though I feel I received a world-class education in business school, I will admit that I did not learn everything I needed to about how to run my own business in my MBA. The opportunity for students at the University of Windsor to help people build businesses is as valuable to them as mentors as it is to the people they’re guiding. These students are learning valuable skills about everything from business plans to marketing to finance.
Unsurprisingly, business and personal finances are closely tied in entrepreneurship. Managing and mastering one will help you do the same for the other. This is why financial literacy is an integral part of the CityThrive program. As aspiring entrepreneurs learn how to manage their business finances, they also learn the importance of managing their personal ones. From creating a budget to tax planning to the time value of money, the financial literacy education that participants receive through the CityThrive programs helps them be successful with money both professionally and personally.
What’s your best financial literacy tip for entrepreneurs?
I know you can already guess I’ve had my own ups and downs with my personal finances since transitioning to self-employment last year. If I could go back in time, I’d have a swath of advice for getting my finances in order.
But I want to hear from you!
Watch the CityThrive video above, and then leave a comment below with your best financial literacy tip when it comes to entrepreneurship and business. Your comment could be featured in a future post and the students can use your advice to make the CityThrive program even better!
This post was sponsored by Capital One. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.