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‘Life-changing experience’

Entrepreneurial boot camp celebrates 10 years

By Susan White

Enactus Memorial is celebrating 10 years of helping transitioning members of the Canadian Armed Forces find new careers as entrepreneurs this week.

Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur (POE) is taking place July 15-21 at the Gardiner Centre with 20 current and former military members participating in the entrepreneurial boot camp.

Megan Meadus, left, and Prof. Lynn Morrissey during Prince's Operation Entrepreneur this week.
Megan Meadus, left, and Lynn Morrissey during Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur this week.

Lasting impact

It’s a program that continues to have lasting impact.

Begun in 2009 as Based in Business, the program attracted the attention of the Prince’s Charities Canada, which took it over in 2012 and rechristened it as Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur. It’s now offered at four universities across Canada each year and was also modified for use in Australia.

Enactus Memorial continues to run the boot camp in St. John’s with students and instructors from Memorial University dedicating volunteer hours to helping former and current members of the military learn how to become business owners.

“By the end, they are confident, motivated and, most importantly, empowered.” — Megan Meadus

“Enactus Memorial continues with Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur because we just simply love running the program,” said Megan Meadus, project manager. “It’s the type of project where you see the direct impact right away. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the transition of an entrepreneur from the beginning of the week to the end. By the end, they are confident, motivated and, most importantly, empowered.”

A to Z business boot camp

Craig Randell, pictured with son Noah, participated in Prince's Operation Entrepreneur in 2017.
Craig Randell, pictured with son Noah, participated in Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur in 2017.
Photo: Submitted

Craig Randell completed the boot camp in 2017 in St. John’s. After 21 years as a logistician serving with the army, CANSOFCOM and air force on peacekeeping tours in Haiti, Ethiopia/Eretria, and armed deployments in Afghanistan, he says the boot camp was exactly what he needed to move into the next phase of his career.

“I loved the program,” he said. “It was all amazing. It gave us everything we needed. It’s basically an A to Z business boot camp.”

Mr. Randell currently works as a procurement officer at the Department of National Defence in Ottawa, Ont., but is opening a tourism business in his hometown of Englee, N.L.

He had his first six clients for The Viking Moose Accommodations and Adventure Tourism this summer. He aims to give visitors an authentic Newfoundland and Labrador experience by immersing them in all the region has to offer. He eventually plans to offer guided and custom tours alongside accommodations.

Mr. Randell says he was impressed by the level of dedication shown by the volunteers from Enactus Memorial during the program.

“The staff at Memorial opened their arms and made us military folk part of their family.” — Craig Randell

“Our days started at 7:30 in the morning and went to 9:30 at night. I was blown away by the students maturity, knowledge and commitment to us,” he said. “The staff at Memorial opened their arms and made us military folk part of their family. They continue to keep in touch and reach out, providing lots of support well after the program ends. It’s like being invested into a new family that’s there whenever you need them.”

Secret to success

Lynn Morrissey, faculty advisor for Enactus Memorial and an assistant professor of communications at the Faculty of Business Administration, says it’s that spirit of community that has made the program such a success.

“Everyone associated with this program is a volunteer and they do everything they can to ensure this week is a success. For me, that’s the secret to this program,” she said.

In addition to Enactus students organizing the program and acting as mentors for participants, faculty members donate their expertise, local entrepreneurs share their experiences, and local businesses sponsor events and help offset other associated costs.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our team to give back to those who’ve given so much for our country,” said Ms. Morrissey. “We have passionate students who are extremely talented and so excited to be part of this program. They’re impacted as much as the actual POE participants are in terms of what this week means to them. It’s a life-changing experience for our Enactus students as well.”

Enactus Memorial is part of an international non-profit organization that mobilizes post-secondary students to develop outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living of people in need through the application of business processes and models.

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