By: Paul Reyes-Fournier
In October 2013, the social media management company Hootsuite announced the opening of The Next Big Thing grant for young entrepreneurs. The $100,000 grant is open to anyone and will have 10 awardees. Hootsuite is based in Vancouver, and there is an interview required for consideration. One of the perks of the award is that you get office space at their headquarters, so Canadians comprise most of the applicants.
First, a Little About Hootsuite
A good grant proposal demonstrates why the awardee and awarder make a good match. For this grant, the best way to do this is to research the background and mission of Hootsuite. As a social media network management software firm, Hootsuite understands the importance of community. This is one of the reasons that they established this grant. The CEO Ryan Holmes was born is British Columbia and believes in mentoring and advising young entrepreneurs. He partnered up with fashion mogul and philanthropist Meredith Powell to create The Next Best Thing grant.
Entrepreneurism in Canada
Like many Canadians, the leadership of Hootsuite believes in getting goods and services locally. A recent study conducted by the Business Development Bank of Canada shows that most Canadians prefer to get their products locally, and they are willing to pay more money for the opportunity. This is one of the reasons that business card printing service Printing For Less created its Canadian team with an advertised emphasis on community-based, environmentally sound business practices.
Small entrepreneurial businesses have huge local support, including financial backing from community banks. Results of a 2011 survey conducted by the Canadian government showed that 94 percent of bank funding requests from small businesses were approved. Canada is proving itself to be a booming center for new and small businesses.
In a report published in the Canadian journal Economic Insights, it was found that youth workers are twice as likely to be laid off as adult workers. This sad statistic can close entrepreneurism to youth, and it’s one of the reasons Holmes cites for creating The Next Big Thing grant. He points people to the EY G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013 report, which scores Canada below average for youth entrepreneurism education. Though the report indicates a positive trend overall, this does not extend to education for Canadian youth.
Youth are prime candidates for awards to start a new business, due in part to their propensity for risk-taking and education. This is the identified need that the grant writer must establish and cure with the award request.
How to Apply
The Next Big Thing grant is annual and open to young entrepreneurs who are at least 18 by fall 2014. There are no education requirements, so a degree or GED is not mandatory. The grant calls for applicants to be courageous, inexhaustible, creative and passionate and want to create products that are imaginative, important and unique. They are looking for people and platforms that are going to change the world.
The body of the application itself is relatively simple. Outside of the normal contact and demographic information, the grant asks for a 100-word business plan. The other significant requirement of the grant is a 90-second video. It is evident in the instructions that the reviewers are looking for enthusiasm and a willingness to change the world.
Paul has served as the chief financial officer for social service organizations, churches and schools. He created his own marketing firm, RF Media. Paul holds a B.S. in physics and an M.B.A.
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