My story for founding Alberta Business Grants goes back a long way.
In 1985 I was eight years old. I remember it clearly. We were at the Canada Games Stadium in Saint John, New Brunswick. It was a normal day, and I was a pretty normal kid. When we got home later that day, my life changed forever. My mom and my two older sisters were on my parent’s bed. All I remember is them crying and a note. The note was from my dad, and it said he was leaving.
Life was anything but normal from that point on.
My mom went back to school to get her degree. She worked 12 hour shifts to pay the bills. My older sisters soon ran away from home. One as early as 13 and the other moved in with dad at 16. So that I could stay close to my friends, mom traveled back and forth to work and university from our rural home.
Money was tight. Our cars were classic beaters, and I knew when payday was coming because our kitchen cupboards would get bare.We eventually moved into town closer to work and mom graduated with a degree from the University of New Brunswick in Saint John.
In my last year of high school, I got my first taste of entrepreneurship. I was the hockey tournament director for Saint John Youth Minor Hockey. Mom sold tickets at the doors.
When it came time for me to enter university, I ended up at Lakehead University to become a forest ranger. I quickly realize that would involve biology and other science courses, which I had little interest in. I moved back home and enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts Program. Only one problem: I couldn’t write.
Here are my first year grades: 1.6 GPA!
As the picture shows, I bombed and was promptly put on academic probation. Sadly I was actually trying.
Year two was not much better, but I did find a few bright spots. I enjoyed English, and I loved my introduction to political science course. I loved what moved people to protest and what politicians did and why. But I was fearful about the long-term job prospects of politics. Everyone kept saying to me, “what kind of job are going to get with a political science degree?” One jerk even said, “when you get that degree, do they ask if you want fries with it?”
With only a 2.1 GPA in year two, I needed a miracle. And I’ll never forget that day. After taking a semester off to travel in Ireland, I returned and went to the student centre. I looked at the director and said, “please, I can’t write or put papers together. Just show me a guide and I’ll do the rest.” He walked over to the bookshelf and grabbed a little red book that changed my life forever. I actually still have the book on my shelf twenty years later:
With that book and use of the writing centre, my skills sky rocked. I took a job every Saturday and Sunday - 12 hour shifts per day - and studied. Thankfully mom would drop off meals to keep me going.
Last two year grades - a big change!
I eventually went on to Wilfrid Laurier University to obtain a Master’s Degree and study in the doctoral program at the University of British Columbia. My first real job was at the Alberta Legislative Assembly. It was exciting, and I was the finance researcher for the official opposition. This job meant I had to study where all the money was flowing and going.
My boss asked, “get me in the newspaper. Follow the money!” I spent countless hours of solitude in the Alberta Legislature library studying how money flows from government to Alberta businesses. Things like the government's Blue Books, Supplementary Supply, Interim Supply, Fiscal Plan, Capital Plan, and Estimates. Money is everywhere, and it took me years to understand how it flows.
And then I studied grants. All of them - and there were a lot of them. They had the weirdest names too, “initiative, program, or fund.” I quickly realized there was a grant for just about everything, including this one from the Edmonton Journal that nobody could believe:
Lottery grant for frat house furniture draws fire
Published: March 19th, 2006 Page: A15
When I finished working at the legislature, I knew one day that I wanted to start a business. But I had no idea what to do. The only skills I had were writing for government and research, which ended up being perfect for grant writing. Long story short, I founded Alberta Business Grants Ltd in 2015. Now we have a proprietary three-step process for winning a grant.
And we are helping businesses grow, expand, and create jobs. Most importantly we are helping to keep cupboards and fridges filled for many Alberta entrepreneurs and their employees.
As for my personal family, dad and mom eventually made amends, my sisters ended up healthy and strong. The oldest became a Mountie, and the other an air traffic controller – a long way from 13 and running away. You can see her Global Woman of Vision video here: http://globalnews.ca/video/2618404/woman-of-vision-kendra-kincade
As for that English minor, well it helped in two ways. First and most obviously with the grant writing. But second it helped me say so long to my mom, who passed from liver cancer in early 2017. You can see her video eulogy here: https://youtu.be/1CLkpv8IGoQ
Here is the note I left mom before one of my flights during her cancer journey:
Without her support, I wouldn’t have had the courage to follow my dream to study political science without any guarantee of a job – let alone start a businesses.
Founder and President