Student Uses Grant to Help Start "Summer Company"

July 08, 2017

Amanda Milmine, 19, of Bayham will be getting some business experience before studying business at Fanshawe College starting in September.

She’s received a provincial “summer company” grant to help her start “HandyMandy.”

She’s offering her services as a gardener, as well as cleaning the insides and outsides of homes.

Ms. Milmine grew up on her family’s farm, formerly dairy and now beef and cash crop, on Heritage Line, attending Straffordville Public School and then East Elgin Secondary School.

She’d help out on the farm when it was still a dairy operation, and then took a part-time job for four years at nearby Heritage Line Herbs, the latter sparking her interest in gardening.

She hopes someday to get into the house “flipping” business—buying old homes, fixing them up and then reselling them for a profit.

But for now, she’s settling for business studies at Fanshawe, and her field of study inspired her to start her own company for the summer.

She applied through the Small Business Enterprise Centre in London—she didn’t know at the time she could have done the same locally—for a “summer company” grant.

That offered both education leading up to going into business, and up to a $3,000 grant.

Half the money was paid upfront, and the other half at the end of summer if she successfully completed the program.

Before the summer, she attended seminars on marketing, how to use money well, keeping track of finances and making sure all applicable taxes got paid.

While she was primarily a gardener, she said, she had also for years been the cleaner at her own home and her grandmother’s, so she decided to offer that service as well, both for house interiors and exteriors.

She figured that during the summer, area residents wanted to spend their time off enjoying themselves, not gardening and cleaning.

Her customers could relax, rather than stressing out about how their homes and gardens looked in summer, she promised.

“If the customer is not happy with the work, then I will do it again for free.”

She has her own car and her own cleaning equipment. She charges $20 an hour, and said she’d make her hours work for what the customer needed.

Growing up on a farm and playing on local sports teams, she was a hard worker, and dedicated to whatever she was doing, she said.

HandyMandy will be a one-person operation to start, but she’s leaving open the possibility of taking on others if business warrants, and even continuing the company through her years at Fanshawe to pay for school.

-Rob Perry

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