SOUTH RIVER/SUNDRIDGE – Business-savvy youths are taking a unique approach to finding a summer job.
Finding a Niche:.
Nathan Jeffery, 15
“There really weren’t enough summer jobs in the area, so I thought this would be something to do,” explained 15-year-old entrepreneur Nathan Jeffery of South River.
Jeffery started his own herb farming business with a little help from the Province.
Through the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation’s Summer Company program, Jeffery was able to secure $1,500 in start-up cash.
“If you follow the program requirements, you are eligible for another $1,500 when you’re finished too,” said Jeffery, noting youth business-owners also get to keep their profits.
Jeffery said it was his dad’s love of gardening that gave him the idea to begin a business selling fresh and dried herbs, including basil, parsley, thyme, mint and oregano. His produce is currently available at the Powassan Farmers Market, which is open each Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. right through until September.
“My dad has been there to help a lot,” he said, noting the fast turn-around for him to prepare his seasonal business after being notified of his acceptance into the program proved to be a small challenge.
“I found out in May that I got the money and I needed a month and a half for them to grow,” said Jeffery. “But I was able to buy seedlings in Uxbridge that were already started as soon as I found out.”
The Summer Company program allows Ontario students aged 15 to 29 years of age to make a business proposal to the Ministry to request funding for their summer company.
Michael Pennacchio, 18, of Sundridge was also approved into the program with his lawn care business.
“I did it on the side last summer and I really liked it,” he said. “Then I found out about the program during an information session at school.”
Pennacchio said his biggest challenge so far has been the dry weather.
“Last week I didn’t put in as many hours because the lawns aren’t growing as fast,” he said, noting he has four regular clients now and is looking to take on more.
In order to be approved into the program, students must be prepared to commit to a minimum average of 35 hours per week, for a minimum of eight consecutive weeks for high school students or 12 consecutive weeks if attending post-secondary school.
“It’s an amazing program,” said Jeffery. “You learn so many skills and you’re running your own business, so you can set your own hours.”
Although Jeffery said he doesn’t have much interest in pursuing gardening as a career path, running his own business has given him valuable tools he can apply to any path he decides to continue with.
“I’ve always been a people person, but this expanded on that,” he said. “It also helps with organizational skills because you have to keep a log of all of your hours and activities as one of the requirements.”
Jeffery said he has surprised himself by how much money he has been able to make so far, but there were other surprises along the way too.
“It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be, but it’s worth it,” he said.