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Minding business

Makletzoff helps turn ideas into enterprises

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Nov 16/01) - Tonya Makletzoff wants to dispel the stereotype of a typical businessperson: a middle-aged man in a suit.

On the contrary, Makletzoff knows of a number of young people in Fort Simpson between the ages of 15 and 34 who possess entrepreneurial spirit.

NNSL Photo

A little creativity can go a long way. Tonya Makletzoff, youth development officer for the Deh Cho Business Development Centre, dons a striking hat -- the creation of a young entrepreneur -- that caught her eye at a recent business development conference in Nanaimo, B.C. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

As the youth development officer for the Deh Cho Business Development Centre, Makletzoff's job is to nurture that spirit and to guide youth on the path to self-employment.

"That's the big focus, trying to introduce business ownership as a viable career option," she said. OI believe in youth empowerment. I know that youth can do things for themselves if they just get the proper support."

Makletzoff has a library of pertinent books and videos in her workplace that can be of use in addition to her own skills and knowledge of marketing and business plans. She also has Internet resources at her fingertips.

Youth with sincere interest and the right attitude can stop by her office to discuss their ideas.

"It's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of freedom," Makletzoff said. "But if you're doing what you love you're more inclined to do a lot of work."

Those without any business background or even those who haven't completed high school can still be pointed in the right direction for training, she said. Partnerships could also be formed with existing businesses to facilitate the process.

Having started her job in late September, Makletzoff said she plans to travel to other Deh Cho communities over the coming months to talk with young entrepreneurs. She is also organizing a territorial youth business development conference, tentatively set for April.

"There's tons of gaps in our society that we can fill," she said. Some youth have already set the wheels in motion. "They are taking the leap into the world of entrepreneurship, so you'll probably see some new businesses opening up over the next year."