Durham College celebrates young entrepreneurs with market, panel discussion

Accomplished young entrepreneurs shared their products and stories at Durham College (DC) on Wednesday, March 29.

The “We Love Entrepreneurs” event recognized young entrepreneurs who have faced all the challenges that come with building a business, as well as systemic and personal barriers like racism, ageism and mental health. They spent the afternoon showcasing their wares and services in The Pit before taking part in a panel discussion for Founders Drive, a start-up podcast (and work-integrated learning project) created by students in the Faculty of Media, Art and Design with funding from CEWIL (Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada).

Founders Drive is also an EnactusDC social impact project that recently won at the regional exposition of the TD Entrepreneurial Challenge and will go on to compete at the national event in Montreal in May.

Four young entrepreneurs took to the stage to speak about taking an idea and turning it into a business, overcoming challenges and building resilience, and all the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

“Entrepreneurs are often people working for low profit margins, selling things they make because of their own passion,” explained Danielle Harder, co-program coordinator of Journalism – Mass Media and an organizer of the event. “You can be an entrepreneur. You don’t have to be Jeff Bezos. You can just be someone who makes soap or earrings or labels. Entrepreneurship is for everyone.”

Passion and ingenuity were hallmarks of the assembled entrepreneurs, which included a number of DC students. A wide range of products was on display, including skincare (Jan’na Tchadouwa, Shea Shimmers), jewelry and adhesive patches (Brandy and Shawntelle Clarke, The No BS Label), handmade bath bombs (Victoria Landry, DuskMoon Shop) and vinyl stickers (Grace Whitaker and Brianna Duff, Artistik).

There are many benefits to building your own business, especially at a young age, according to Video Production graduate Mary Jubran, a digital editor at Frequency Podcast Network and freelance videographer and editor.

“It teaches you how to be confident, how to believe in yourself and your work,” she said. “Making an opportunity for yourself, connecting with others, building that network and building each other up, it’s extraordinarily valuable.”

A number of the young entrepreneurs cited their experience at DC as a big influence on their business journeys. Guedei Djimi co-founded All Blk Market, a networking and e-commerce platform that showcases small, Black-owned businesses. In doing so, he took full advantage of FastStartDC, which helps students develop and launch their own businesses.

Whitaker’s Artistik started life as a class project in her Entrepreneurship and Small Business program.

“There are amazing resources here for students to start businesses,” she said.

By launching successful companies even before they graduate, DC students are leading the way as young entrepreneurs.

Guedei Djimi’s All Blk Market showcases small, Black-owned businesses and bridges the gap between aspiring entrepreneurs and Black professionals. For more on his journey as an entrepreneur, click here.