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JOELLE FOSTER HELPING BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS BUILD THEIR BUSINESSES Text by Andrea Danelak

Photo: Jérémie Wookey

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n her quest to help young business owners succeed, Joelle Foster has become the perfect example of an entrepreneurial success story. Joelle is the director of the Manitoba, Nunavut and Northwest Territories chapter of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), a national non-profit organization that is dedicated to growing Canada’s economy, one young entrepreneur at a time. Providing services like pre-launch coaching, business resources, mentoring and startup loans of up to $45,000; CYBF helps entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39 to launch and sustain successful businesses. As part of the CYBF’s offerings, Joelle built and grew a mentorship program from the ground up. The program matches community volunteer mentors with entrepreneurs for a few hours each month, allowing the volunteers to offer practical advice to the budding entrepreneurs and help them learn how to navigate the business world. Thanks to the program’s success, the CYBF has seen a 96% loan repayment rate in Manitoba. Joelle’s words of wisdom and experience in helping establish the program have inspired the young people who come to her, hoping to pursue entrepreneurial ventures of their own. Her role extends well beyond her paid position, as she has made herself available to all entrepreneurs enrolled in the program, mentoring them in any way that she can. “And any of the 80 past entrepreneurs can call me at any time,” she adds. Anrea Zaslov witnessed Joelle’s dedication when she interned at CYBF for six weeks while finishing the Creative Communications program at Red River College in 2012. “I was so fortunate to work alongside Joelle – I saw her give tirelessly day in and day out to her entrepreneurs,” says Anrea. “Joelle is a force and her entrepreneurs are not just a number or going through a pipeline – they are part of her dream and family. She is making a dent in the entrepreneurial landscape in Manitoba through her passion, commitment and time to mentorship.” Not only did Anrea witness Joelle’s dedication to the entrepreneurs in the program, but she also benefited from her mentorship herself. “Joelle has always lifted my spirits and been there for me when I have needed assistance or direction,” she says. “I take great comfort in knowing she is there for me as a mentor, because I know I can count on her to point me in the right direction. I know I have gained more than a mentor – I have gained a meaningful friendship.” Mentee Bryce North is also grateful for Joelle’s help. “Joelle has pushed me from day one and is the reason my company is where it is today,” he says. “She has this amazing way of pumping you full of energy that makes you believe you can accomplish anything.” “Joelle consistently works with an enthusiastic approach towards entrepreneurs and new venture creation,” adds fellow mentee Luc Bohunicky. “Always results oriented, Joelle works closely with Manitoba’s startup community, to allow our ‘leaders of tomorrow’ the greatest opportunity of success.” Thanks to the program’s popularity and an unprecedented number of new businesses starting up in Manitoba, the CYBF is in desperate need of more mentors. “We can’t give entrepreneurs money until they have a mentor assigned,” says Joelle, who hopes to continue to mentor as many entrepreneurs as possible through her program. For more information on the CYBF or how you can get involved with the mentorship program, please visit www.cybf.ca

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