Community Futures North Okanagan’s Enterprize Challenge is back and accepting nominations.
Olive Butler will never forget the night she won last year's challenge – it's one that changed the course of her small business, she says.
Butler took home more than $20,000 in prizes to grow her natural, low-waste and vegan cosmetics company, Conspiracy Cosmetics, from a small e-commerce shop to a beauty brand available in shops from the Okanagan to Ontario.
"The main thing that's evolved since joining the Enterprize Challenge is my confidence to move my business forward," says Butler.
"When I started the program, I didn't feel like I knew enough. I felt like an imposter who needed more experience and better connections. By the end of the program, I had the knowledge and connections I needed to move past that fear, that imposter syndrome. I realized that my business does make sense."
Registration is now open for the 2023 Enterprize Challenge.
Starting in February, participants begin a series of workshops and one-on-one mentoring to refine their business plans. The program culminates in a live pitch and awards showcase at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre May 18.
"After seven years of Enterpize Challenges, we've seen such incredible demonstrations of creative thinking, problem solving and determination as our local entrepreneurs bring their business ideas to life," says Kazia Mullin, CFNO business services manager.
"We can't wait to see how this year's participants will rise to the challenge."
Last spring, Sean Ling-Allen of Centred Pilates rose to the challenge with a thoughtful pitch and took home second place plus more than $10,000 in prizes.
Since participating in the challenge, Ling-Allen has hired two part-time instructors and grown the group classes side of the studio.
James Stuart, founder of Uplift Aero Greens, has also seen his business grow since he took home third place and $6,000 in prizes last April.
He's tripled production and now provides product to both Butcher Boys and Swan Lake Market & Garden.
Registration for the 2023 challenge closes Feb. 6 at noon.