Rural communities are stepping up to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs. Specifically, rural Nova Scotia is emerging as a hotbed of innovation for the next generation. Our dynamic ecosystem has created an environment where young minds can transform their ideas into successful ventures. 

Let’s dive into three stories of exceptional young entrepreneurs who have found their inspiration and success in the heart of rural Nova Scotia. Through their experiences, we hope to showcase the power of innovation, resilience, and the unwavering support of a tight-knit rural community.

1. Sam Thompson, Sam Co. Creations & Melmbery Adventures

Sam Thompson is the 20-year-old entrepreneur behind Sam Co. Creations and Melmbery Adventures. He has been creating and selling unique products since the age of 12. It began as Christmas tree ornaments made from pumpkin seeds, quickly selling out at local markets. Encouraged, Sam began experimenting with different products. Eventually, he settled on creating birdhouses from salvaged wood. As his business grew, he continued to experiment and found success with his surprise soap – a bar of soap with a hidden toy inside, featuring popular characters like Lego.

Additionally, Sam recently launched Melmerby Adventures. He rents paddle boards, kayaks, and a pedal boat from his grandmother’s property. We are excited to support Sam as he continues to grow his businesses.

2. Dylan Thompson-MacKay, Elwood Pens

Next up, Dylan Thompson-MacKay established Elwood Pens in northern Nova Scotia in 2014. Elwood Pens manufacturs handcrafted wooden pens and pencils. Starting as a school project, it officially became a business in 2016. After a three-year hiatus, Elwood Pens is relaunching its production in May 2023. It’s first batch of pens will be available to the public in October 2023. Using over 40 different types of wood from around the world. These include unique finds from Ukraine, Brazil, and local hardwoods from Nova Scotia, Elwood Pens offers a diverse range of pen styles.

The brand’s name pays homage to Dylan’s paternal grandfather, Elwood Mackay, and represents the ethos of inspiring individuals to “Write Their Own Story.” Guided by the values of Quality, Authenticity, and Sustainability, Elwood Pens is committed to crafting the highest quality handmade wooden pens and being a business leader in Atlantic Canada.

3. Erica MacKeen, Umage Creative

Lastly, Erica MacKeen leads Umage Creative. Umage Creative is a Social Media Marketing Creative Group that specializes in promoting immigrant-owned businesses. At Umage Creative, they are passionate about fostering the growth and success of immigrant-owned businesses through expertise in social media marketing. They bridge meaningful connections between entrepreneurs and local communities through storytelling. Furthermore, by tailoring their social media strategy to reflect the authenticity and uniqueness of each business, they enable entrepreneurs to connect with their target audience in an impactful way.

How we support

Recognizing the importance of fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs, IGNITE is passionate about providing opportunities and resources for aspiring young innovators. We are thrilled to share news about an upcoming youth entrepreneurship camp – the $100 Youth Startup Challenge. This program provides young individuals interested in entrepreneurship with immersive learning experiences, mentorship, and hands-on training.

Additionally, our IGNITE residency program offers high school and postsecondary students FREE OF CHARGE access to a wide range of benefits and resources. These include access to coworking amenities, high-speed internet, collaborative lounge space, free networking events, free parking, and 9am-4pm Mon-Fri building access. Students can also book meeting rooms, utilize on-site equipment, and benefit from mentoring services and entrepreneurship training. At IGNITE, we want to encourage everyone to explore how they can make change possible in a rural community.

The future of entrepreneurship is being shaped here; together, we are working to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs and pave the way for a brighter, more innovative future.

You can also check out our Events page to find out more about our upcoming programming.