By Jensen, Randy on April 15, 2020.
With the COVID-19 virus affecting how business is conducted and governments encouraging people to stay home, many businesses have been forced to lay off staff with no assurance the position will be available after the crisis ends. Many of those people will turn to Employment Insurance for support.
A long-time Lethbridge business is encouraging people to consider becoming an entrepreneur through a government program that allows people to collect EI while training to become an entrepreneur. Gillian Nish, owner of Execuserv Plus Inc., is offering a 26-week program for people who are on EI and have a desire to be an entrepreneur.
“We have helped over 1,500 people become entrepreneurs through this self-employment program,” says Nish in a release. “This first six weeks of training are where the students learn from other entrepreneurs. Normally we are in the classroom for six weeks, but our March intake was presented through an online delivery mode which worked very well.”
Lynda Kavanagh, owner of a brand coaching and training company, has been a program facilitator for 20 years and says the online content of what the participants learn is no different from a classroom setting and it’s only how they get the information that has changed.
“Technology allows the participants to see and talk with each other as well as with the facilitator,” says Kavanagh. “Rather than watching a presentation on a wall screen, they watch it from internet-connected devices.”
Nish says the feedback they have received from their students has been positive, especially from those living in southern Alberta communities who would normally have to drive to Lethbridge to take the training.
“We’ve had many of them thank us because their plans to become entrepreneurs have not been delayed because of self-isolation,” says Nish. “Many of the participants in the self-employment programs have children at home so they’re able to remain at home and still take the program.”
Learning modules cover many of the necessary topics to start a business such as creating a name, sales and marketing, business etiquette, customer service, accounting, taxes, insurance, cash flow and social media marketing.
“If people are confided to their homes during this time, we want to offer them the option to be self-employed,” says Nish. “If those jobs they have been laid off from come back, they have a choice of returning to work for someone else or working for themselves.”
The self-employment program is available to all communities across southwestern Alberta for people collecting EI. Details of the program can be found at execuservplus.com, or by calling (403) 320-5604. Applications can be conducted over the phone so there is no need for people to leave self-isolation. The next intake begins in May but the class size is limited to 11 on a first-come basis.
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