Shining a Light on Non-Profits at Workhaus

Meet the game-changers at Workhaus who are empowering the leaders of tomorrow! Business in the Streets & Venture Kids are both dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs grow.

Know Your Community

Meet the game-changers at Workhaus who are empowering the leaders of tomorrow! Business in the Streets & Venture Kids are both dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs grow, leading to long-term positive effects that ripple across the Canadian tech ecosystem.

Business in the Streets is a community-focused charity that helps young entrepreneurs grow or validate their business idea by providing access to training, mentorship, a community of entrepreneurs, and funding opportunities. Their vision is a Canada where all young people, regardless of the challenges they face in life, believe in the potential of their ideas.

Venture Kids is an award-winning non-profit launched in 2018 with the goal of providing students with mentorship, free programming, and access to free tech tools and services. They work with partners to offer programs that teach students web development, design, entrepreneurship, product development, and artificial intelligence (through their partnership with Northeastern University). Programs include food support sourced through local vendors, because it’s hard to learn on an empty stomach.

Outside of the mentorship that Venture Kids offers, they have worked on other positive initiatives, such as challenging participating students to create and edit Wikipedia pages for Canadian women and people of colour that work in tech.

As Takara Small, founder of VentureKids told the Toronto Star:

“…creating more visibility on one of the most popular online encyclopedias is another layer of representation that can encourage young marginalized Canadians to find a place in the tech world.”   

In our piece on Venture Kids and ’The Power of Different Perspectives’ Takara reminds us:

“Remember your customer is GLOBAL. Diversity at all levels of the company is needed. Otherwise, how can you meet customer needs if your team doesn’t reflect the customer? All companies want to stand the test of time, to do that you need a team that reflects the world.” 

The investment that both Venture Kids and Business in the Streets are making in communities that currently do not have the same opportunities as others is not just changing the lives of young entrepreneurs, but the lives of everyone. Business in the Streets mentorship has led to real change. Yohan Peiris, Director of Operations at Renewly Solar, who enrolled in BITS Boot Camp in 2019 is a perfect example. Renewly has helped many Canadian homeowners make the transition to solar energy by delivering engineered solar systems across Atlantic Canada, in the pursuit of a future where Canada is 100% powered by renewable energy.

Yohan’s story is only one of many. With 850 program graduates, over 1,000 young people reached, over 10,000 hours of mentorship provided, and $500,000 in funding provided since 2012, Business in the Streets is making a tangible impact in the lives of young Canadians.

If you’re thinking to yourself that you’d love to get involved, now is your chance!

Call For Mentors

Business in the Streets

Business in the Streets are currently recruiting peer mentors for their virtual Spring programs, beginning on Saturday, April 27th 2024 and ending on Saturday June 22nd 2024. This free 8 week virtual business program is designed for low-income youth in Canada with the goal of helping them start or grow a business, and a core part of that programming is mentorship! 

This volunteer opportunity is open to professionals and entrepreneurs who enjoy giving back and might be looking to network with other business owners or step into a supportive space to develop their own leadership skills. While being a Workhaus member is not a requirement to become a peer mentor, BITS are proud members and partners of Workhaus, and had this to say: 

When our team comes down to Workhaus we always notice when we’re sharing space with other business-minded people and we’d love to welcome some of those folks as BITS peer mentors if they have the time and space this Spring!

Peer Mentors are young professionals and entrepreneurs between 18-34 who have a strong understanding of basic business concepts and who “keep business in mind and community at heart”. These individuals are the engine behind the impact of BITS programs. As a Peer Mentors you will be responsible for supporting young entrepreneurs in completing the BITS curriculum, mainly by offering advice and accountability check-ins.  After being matched with 2-3 young entrepreneurs, you will help them apply business concepts to their business or business idea including planning, research, marketing, sales, finance, etc. Sample exercises include completing a Business Model Canvas, customer avatar, financial projections, and detailing their sales process. Peer Mentors also ensure their mentees have access to someone who can clarify and add context to challenging topics, problem solve, share resources, and keep them accountable.

Each program concludes with a pitch event where entrepreneurs present their idea to a panel of judges. Mentors play a crucial part in this event, ensuring the entrepreneurs rock their Pitch Day presentations and have a memory to look back on with pride.

Mentors must be available for 3-hour classes which run on Saturdays, as well as approximately 90 minutes throughout the week to check-in and support mentees in their class exercises. The total time commitment is approximately 30-40 hours over 8 weeks.

Peer mentor applications can be found online at: 

The deadline to apply is Monday, April 15th 2024 and Spring programs begin on Saturday, April 27th 2024 and end on Saturday June 22nd 2024.

Venture Kids

It’s no secret that computer programming and STEM careers are the fastest-growing and well-paid jobs across the country. Venture Kids is determined to help accelerate access to in-demand technical skills that will give the country’s youth living in underserved neighbourhoods the skills they need to compete in tomorrow’s economy. Through their free programs they teach their students web development, design, product development, and financial literacy fundamentals. In addition to their free programs, they also provide breakfast/lunch, laptops for youth who cannot afford devices and access to transportation grants.

Venture Kids offers the following programs, each requiring a time commitment of 6 hours a month:

Venture Code Ages 9 -14

Students are taught how to create their own interactive websites and multimedia stories that allow them to turn their ideas into works of art. This program includes free lunch and/or breakfast as well as access to laptops and hands-on mentors.

Venture Startup Ages 14 – 19

Students are taught how to code (CSS, HTML, Javascript) and business development lessons that show them how to turn their ideas into sustainable businesses. Over six weeks students create their own businesses. This program includes free lunch and/or breakfast, laptops and hands-on mentors. Students are taught: product building, front-end development, financial literacy and growth hacking.

Tech Support All ages

This free program will help students and parents access technology support they need to learn remotely at home or in school. Individuals who need help accessing digital tools, computer fixes and more can use our services.
Volunteer applications can be found here.

Co-authored by Johnny Collette and Tori Morency