Ken Selvaraja explains what ACE125 means and how it works. / Kevin Mills Photo

Mission’s ACE 125 program launched

Linking seniors with young entrepreneurs

If you are a young entrepreneur and you have a great idea, sometimes it’s difficult to know how to move it forward.

A new program, called ACE 125, officially launched in Mission this week and can help young people by teaming them up with an experienced senior.

Organizers of the project say ACE (Ageless Community Entrepreneurs) 125 (because the idea was created in Mission during its 125th birthday) brings experienced mentors together with younger people to give them a helping hand and show them ways to grow their ideas into a successful operation.

According to the program’s literature handed out at the official launch on Monday night, “The magic of seniors sharing their life and business skills with a younger generation will grow new economic opportunities, right here in Mission.”

Ken Selvaraja, owner of Lanka Jewels, and Bob Ingram of the Mission Seniors Association have been working on this idea for several years.

Selvaraja told the crowd gathered at the launch that the project could not have happened without the support of the community.

Partners include the Mission Seniors Association, Mission School District, UFV, Community Futures North Fraser, the Mission Chamber of Commerce, the Mission Economic Development office and many others.

Selvaraja compared the program to a relay race, where athletes pass a baton to the next runner to continue moving forward.

“If we find a way to pass it onto the next generation, then we have a continuity of success.”

He also said seniors are challenged with new technology – the internet, apps and Facebook – and the youth are the best people to teach them.

“The benefit is, as we teach them our life skills, our knowledge, our experience in business or any other area, we can learn from them as well.

“We form a community where we are learning,” Selvaraja said.

Ingram, who has been working with the district for many years to create a new intergenerational seniors/youth complex, called the ACE 125 concept exciting.

“The reason we started talking about this is because we were in fact developing a multi-generation site and we were looking for projects that could be identified as meeting the criteria of connecting youth with seniors and having them both participate together,” said Ingram, adding it is a mentorship program where seniors provide experience and the youth acquire needed knowledge.

“Youth are our future.”

During the launch, Ron Jones and his son Scott of West Coast Auto Group were on hand to present a cheque for $20,000 to the ACE 125 program through their charitable organization Founders Foundation.

Anyone who wants more information on this new initiative can visit ace125.com.

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