CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News
From Maskwachees to Moncton and back again — that’s the journey five Ponoka students have been on recently.
The students were part of two teams that participated in the National Aboriginal Youth Business Plan Competition in Moncton, N.B.
The team of Dean Bruno, Justin Ward and Paskwa Lightning developed a business plan that helped First Nations youth attend post-secondary institutions.
“It was a company called Kiskinnowahamakosowin Brokerage Firm and it was designed as an education trust fund because eventually our education funding is going to get cut off and we thought it was a good idea to start it up to save money for students in the future,” said a confident Paskwa Lightning.
The company, which also sells life insurance, would rely on parents contributing from birth till graduation to accumulate almost $50,000 to send the child to school, Lightning explained.
The second group, cousins Cheylene and Cassadra Lightning, developed a plan that focused around event planning.
“We created a festival promotions company called Lightning Promotions,” said Cassandra Lightning.
The five students were part of more than 500 students who were selected out of thousands of entries that required them to submit a comprehensive business plan and a video promoting their idea.
At the conference they were asked to set up a trade booth and give an oral presentation to a panel of judges, and although neither of the teams placed, Paskwa believed the experience would help them in the future.
“We were really busy and there was about 500 teams that didn’t make it and we were two of about 100 that qualified to go,” said Paskwa. “We’ll probably end up going back next year and it was good to get a feel for it this year. We didn’t really know what to expect and the groups that did well had been there for two or three years some of them and they knew what kind of information to include where we were kind of raw.”
Paskwa admitted he’s already thinking up ideas for next year and thinks with the knowledge he gained at this year’s competition they’ll have a better chance at placing next year.