Two young Kamloops entrepreneurs are launching an innovative online business that seeks to create scholarships through commerce.
And Thompson Rivers University students have until Nov. 30 to apply for the company's first funding offer.
TRU student Travis McKenna and former student Chris Maydaniuk have launched VivedU, a website allowing shoppers to get discount goods while paying into scholarships and other programs that enable education and career opportunities.
The project is the brainchild of McKenna's father Peter McKenna, the president and co-founder of NRI, a warehousing and distribution service based in Kamloops.
McKenna handed the idea off to his son and his son's best friend, Maydaniuk, who also serves as NRI's business development manager.
"A lot of the brands that NRI works with we've reached out to and said, 'Hey we've got a great opportunity for you to clear out some of your discounted last season products to a student channel but we'd like you to put up a scholarship to students as well across Canada,'" said Maydaniuk. "Most of our brands have been extremely receptive to the idea."
VivedU's partner companies are already offering funding.
NRI is awarding a $1,000 scholarship to a TRU student who has helped their community overcome a challenge.
And the surf and skate apparel company Sitka is offering $500 for a student demonstrating creative environmental sustainability this semester.
VivedU has also signed on outdoor wear retailer Icebreaker Merino.
"For them, it's obviously marketing and awareness to the student population. But for students, it's an immediate access to a scholarship," said Maydaniuk.
The business's strategy also includes a small, automatic donation into a scholarship fund with every purchase, which VivedU matches.
And the pair has found a way to resolve the Catch 22 wherein students can't gain work experience because companies don't want to hire individuals without work experience.
The VivedU ambassador program provides an opportunity for tangible experience by enlisting students to spread the word about the online endeavour as well as the brands being promoted.
"We're planning on doing annual events where they're going to actually get the chance to meet some of the people in our brands and collaborate with them and potentially have the chance to get internships with them when they come out of school or between their years of studies," said Maydaniuk.
Ambassadors are working with the University of Western Ontario, McGill University, Simon Fraser University and TRU.
For more information and to apply for the scholarship, go to VivedU.org.