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Venture for Canada is a national charity that fosters the entrepreneurial skills and mindset of young Canadians. We recruit, train, and support young people to work for innovative Canadian small businesses and startups. Participants develop the network, knowledge, and entrepreneurial skills to have more impactful careers through our programs. In 2021, over 2,400 young Canadians participated in VFC’s programs and over 5,794 since 2014. VFC was named the 6th fastest growing charity in Canada over the past five years by the Veritas Foundation.


VFC was Founded by Scott Stirrett, an ambitious 22-year-old at the time. Fast-forward to 2022, the problems VFC set out to solve become more prevalent. Starting and growing a business and entering the workforce presented new and unforeseen challenges. Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, equity, access, and networks around Toronto and around Canada shifted. VFC Fellowship, Intrapreneurship, and Internship programs fuel the talent pipeline that drives innovation forward. These are the top six lessons from 2022 VFC wants you to take into the future growth of Toronto and communities across Canada.


Entrepreneurship can’t be learned from a book. You know it by doing:

Before VFC, no non-profit or charity in the country focused on entrepreneurial skills development through work-integrated learning. “The most effective way to develop entrepreneurial skills is through work- integrated learning,” says Stirrett. In particular, having young people work in small businesses and see what’s involved in building a company from the ground up. Try and test new business environments as much as possible early in your career. The more you do, the more you learn.

A changing landscape challenges the underlying assumptions about how we do business:

Five years ago, many people would have said you can’t build a remote first business. We’ve all been working remotely for the last two years, and all these companies haven’t collapsed. That’s just one clear and recent example of how the rules have changed. Instead of thinking about how things used to be, embrace change and ambiguity to succeed in unprecedented scenarios.


A good idea is not intrinsically valuable without good execution and follow through:

“Ideas are a dime a dozen” is often heard on VFC’s Slack channels and office culture. “There are seven billion people in the world, and it’s likely that someone else has had the same idea before or comes to the same conclusion as you. Entrepreneurial skills are in the execution of bringing that idea into reality in a way that creates value for the world.” Build a plan to bring your ideas to action, even if it’s just for fun.

You are motivated by the success of your business:

Your employees are motivated by other things. And that’s okay. “To hire and retain people, you need to care about what they care about,” says Stirrett. “The reality is, most people want psychologically safe workplaces, and they want to be fairly compensated. They want meaningful work, and they want a sense of autonomy. Companies that do not prize the well-being of their employees are going to lose a lot of their employees. The pandemic has emphasized the importance of looking after your team members.” Don’t expect others to have the same motivations.


To attract and retain the best talent, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion need to be part of your roadmap:

“Many more startups and small businesses are recognizing the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion from the very beginning,” says Stirrett. “There’s been a big and positive shift towards building DEI into the DNA of the company or organization. It helps that, like the Canadian population, entrepreneurs are themselves diverse.” Call “things in” and enlist subject matter experts when you don’t see a clear roadmap.

Starting a business is hard. You don’t have to do it alone:

“There is so much support out there,” says Stirrett. “There’s Venture for Canada, but there are also great organizations like Futurpreneur Canada, and there are incubators and accelerators all across the country. There are also peer groups like the Young Presidents Organization that are so helpful because the life of an entrepreneur is full of ups and downs. The more support you have, the better a position you will be in to succeed.” Life and business are about the relationships you hold and value, don’t let those get away.


The resourcefulness of Canadians is essential to overcoming our country’s most significant challenges. Venture for Canada is a catalyst of systemic social change by equipping young Canadians to build a more prosperous and inclusive society.

Learn more about entrepreneurial skills on @venture4canada on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and TikTok.

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