How 7 young people found success as entrepreneurs

Jean-François Cloutier and Joël Pelletier with crew members of Distillerie St.Laurent

France Michaud | Desjardins Group

Many young people dream of going into business for themselves, but few manage to do it. Lack of money and isolation are often to blame. The solution? Solidarity-based financing.
Find out how 7 young entrepreneurs took an unconventional path to success.

Financing: the initial boost a business needs  
It can be especially hard for young entrepreneurs to access financing without a credit history. "Unfortunately, not everyone is equal when it comes to credit," says Étienne Lessard, director of Réseau Accès Crédit (RAC) in Rimouski, a Desjardins Microcredit to Businesses partner.

"Some entrepreneurs have the right ventures and the right tools to see them through, but they aren't able to secure the financing they need. That's where our organization comes in: when other doors are closed," says Lessard.

Joël Pelletier and Jean-François Cloutier of Distillerie du St. Laurent know a thing or two about that, having received a small loan from RAC. "They really got on board right from the start, even though our venture involved lots of challenges and risks. We definitely wouldn't have been able to launch without their confidence and financial support," says Pelletier.

"When you believe in your venture and you're passionate about it, people feel that," says
Émilie Frigon, co-owner of Restaurant Dédélicieux in Normandin, who got support through the Créavenir program.

Guidance and support: to set them on their way
"It's been proven that solid support doubles a company's chances of survival. Business mentors not only enable young entrepreneurs to look at the bigger picture for managing the company, but they also provide guidance and help them make the best decisions for the future of the business," says Simon Charlebois, director of the Centre-de-la-Mauricie Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC).

Attractif's Pierre-Yves Rousselle and Rachel Frigon are a great example. "The Desjardins Business centre - Mauricie and the CFDC offered us support and $10,000 in Créavenir financing. That let us do more tech R&D and provided us with working capital for large volume orders," says Rouselle. The financing was also a springboard for obtaining other financial services, including a line of credit and a loan from a local investment fund.

Claudia Croteau, co-owner of Montreal-based M3béton, is unequivocal on this point: entrepreneurs should  be willing to ask for help and support from the beginning: "Help is out there--you just have to find it!" Claudia knew that she was meant to start her own business, even if all the keys to success weren't in place at the beginning. "Don't skip anything. Just move forward one step at a time, using the funding that you have. Support organizations will be there every step of the way and will make sure to provide assistance tailored to your needs."

Cindy Cantin, the young eco-friendly designer behind CANTIN, has found great success in entrepreneurship: "I love what I do, I make my own decisions and I can proudly take my business wherever I want." Clearly, the hard work has been worth it!

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