Browsing through a copy of Share earlier this year, an advertisement caught Teddy Osei’s attention.
“Though the print was small, I was clearly able to decipher what it said,” he said. “It was the offer of a chance to enter an entrepreneurship course with the reminder that opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”
When Osei inquired about the entry requirements, he was told that the program was full.
“That was a bit disheartening, but I was put on a waiting list,” he said.
A few days later, he received good news that a space had opened and it was his if he wanted to participate in the National Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith (NESBF) International Centre of Canada’s youth entrepreneur program.
“I was so excited when I got that call,” said Osei. “That was the opportunity I was looking for to advance myself.”
Aimed at young people between the ages of 17 and 24, the program is designed for challenged young people who are committed to creating their own business. Selection is based on assessment and business ideas.
Equipped with the business skills he received in the program, Osei started a company – Teddy King – that creates and provides unique and durable African-styled jewellery and fashion collections.
“Some pieces are hand-made and imported from around the world and others are created locally,” he said. “We offer an online presence with built-in shopping customization where clients can view the catalogue and make purchases. The company’s goal is to become a recognizable brand that sells a unique seasonal collection that’s appealing to a large demographic.”
A Monsignor Fraser College graduate who dropped out of George Brown College’s community worker program, Osei says the NESBF program was very valuable.
“I learned how to be independent and self-sufficient and the importance of a business plan,” said Ghanaian-born Osei, whose family brought him to Canada when he was two months old.
Five years ago, Tristan De Gale met his younger brother, Brandon Roberts, for the first time.
“We really didn’t get to know each other until about a year ago,” said De Gale, who encouraged his brother to participate in the program.
Roberts, who graduated from West Hill Collegiate, started Onlyheartz Photography.
“Through the program, I have learned what it takes to own and run a successful business,” he said.
Roberts, who also enjoys singing, plans to take maternity and family photos.
“When I go to my friends’ homes, I don’t see any family portraits,” he said.
De Gale created De Gale Design, which is a graphic illustration firm.
“My mission is to produce high quality digital art products and services,” he said. “They will include prints, sweaters, T-shirts, cards, traditional artwork and books.”
Hollis Sandy was referred to the program by a graduate.
“She knew I was trying to start a business and figured this was ideal for me,” he said. “She was so right.”
Sandy created Humble Highs, which is a clothing line that promotes humbleness and encourages individuals to follow their passion.
“I am on cloud nine,” he said. “I have a lot of knowledge now of marketing and business overall. This was exactly what I was looking for.”
The other graduates are Christina Anton, Curtis Sutherland, Donika Morgan, Michael Smith, Shanna Harris and Shayna Hill.
In addition to honouring the graduates, the NESBF presented a bursary to York University second-year sociology student, Jennifer Owusu-Ansah.
“I value this award because it says the community believes in what I am doing and is there to support me,” said the Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School graduate.
Archbishop Rev. Dr. Delores Seiveright, the NESBF founder and president, started the program to help young people advance in society.