Student seeks community fundraising support for volunteer trip

Taylor Bain, pictured alongside her colleagues at Export Development Canada, says she need to raise a total of $2,950 by late March in order to participate in a volunteer trip.

OTTAWA—A Carleton University student from Little Current is making her mark on the world by supporting youth innovation centres around the world and she’s looking for donations for the program, which aims to address youth unemployment.

“To help get the volunteers more connected to the program, they have each volunteer—depending on the duration of your placement—raise a certain amount of money. This goes towards funding for the youth innovation fund, which goes towards entrepreneurship and employment training and providing small grants to youth business startups,” says Taylor Bain, who will be volunteering at one of the centres in Peru starting this May.

These centres are referred to as EQWIP HUBs and they exist in 18 urban centres in Bolivia, Ghana, Indonesia, Peru, Senegal and Tanzania. They offer career training and expertise to youth—with a special focus on females—in these areas in the hopes of addressing the global issue of youth unemployment.

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EQWIP HUBs are a partnership between Canada World Youth (CWY) and Youth Challenge International (YCI). CWY specializes in offering international volunteer opportunities for Canadian youth. YCI is focused on exploring solutions to mobilize youth into growing their skill sets and their prospects at meaningful employment.

The funding that EQWIP HUB volunteers raise helps young entrepreneurs by covering program costs and providing seed money for their client youth to start their own companies.

“This program has been a five-year pilot project put on with funding from Global Affairs Canada. My role will be focused on the benefits realization of the program, as they want to know if what they’ve been doing has been helpful and want to know how the program has improved the lives of these people,” says Ms. Bain.

When she arrives, her responsibilities will include conducting focus groups, interviews and data collection to gather feedback from the young entrepreneurs regarding their thoughts on the program.

“The organization needs to make sure that it’s putting money in in the right way. I’m hoping they continue it, and I could see that in the future, but they need to take a look first,” says Ms. Bain.

The placement will run for three months, beginning in mid-May and running through to mid-August. In order to be accepted for the trip, Ms. Bain has to raise $2,950 by late March. This money goes directly into the youth innovation fund which is funneled to the young entrepreneurs, so they can create companies and therefore future job opportunities in their home regions.

“It’s very scary and unsettling to me to be asking people to provide their hard-earned money for someone across the world they don’t even know, but the money is really going to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” she says.

International youth who apply to fund their startups through EQWIP HUBs participate in a training program that introduces them to business basics and offers skills to help ensure their businesses have the best chance at success as possible.

“It helps them to know the market and really helps them in gaining a livelihood they can sustain. It also teaches them it’s okay to reach out for help and the value of taking the opportunities around them to improve their lives,” Ms. Bain says.

On a personal level, she says she hopes to see the impacts of this program firsthand.

“It’s about actually getting in there and talking to these people and seeing how what you do can affect their lives. Coming from the background that I have with all the support I’ve been given, I want to use the privilege I do have and have had for all these years to try and help others with it, to see what I can do,” Ms. Bain says.

In addition to studying law, policy and government at Carleton University, she works for Export Development Canada, a federal agency that helps Canadian businesses export their products around the world and provide assistance through lending, insurance and other support to those companies.

This opportunity was not one that Ms. Bain had sought on her own. A recruiter with EQWIP HUBs contacted her and encouraged her to apply because her background and skill set matched with the qualities they were looking for in their program.

Ms. Bain says she hopes to attend law school in the fall and this opportunity would let her explore the world in a more significant way than simple tourism.

“This was a way that, before I get too crammed down with school, I could get some real good experience and just take the opportunity to go live somewhere outside Canada and have a really meaningful impact,” says Ms. Bain. “This is just an opportunity that I didn’t want to miss out on and would regret not taking.”

The program has already provided Ms. Bain with new opportunities and challenges that she has not faced before.

“The fundraising thing is new to me so it’s tough, but it’s really showing me the support that I have around me,” she says.

“It shows that we should all be involved in trying to improve what’s around us, whether that’s within the community or in the wider spectrum of it. We all have a role to play.”

To contact Ms. Bain for more information or to support the cause, send her an email at tbain2121@gmail.com. At press time, she has raised $660, or 22 percent of her $2,950 total goal.

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