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Surviving the slump: students bring sizzle to entrepreneurship with beef wings

With oil prices low and thousands of layoffs this year, it’s a terrible time for students looking for work.

Sometimes, you just have to improvise.

A pair of Bow Valley College graduates decided to take a risk, with an offbeat business idea.

Aly Jiwa and Charles Kumar are cooking up what they hope will become a beef wing empire.

Both business students dreamed of high paying jobs in the energy industry, but there is not any sizzle in the oil patch right now, and their friends who have already graduated are not getting jobs.

“With all these companies that are trimming the fat, they’re not going to hire anybody,” says Jiwa.

“I have a passion for entrepreneurship, and that drive to be your own boss.”

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David Allwright, Dean of the Chiu School of Business at Bow Valley College is judging the Calgary-wide “Business Leaders of Tomorrow” contest.

He says if you start a company when you’re young, you have less fear, and time to make mistakes.

“You’re not encumbered with mortgages and car payments, and maybe you’re still living in your parents’ basement,” said Allwright.

“So you can strike out and do some interesting things.”

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce does not have numbers, but says many businesses have sprouted up during past economic slumps.

“Calgary and Alberta generally are built on that entrepreneurial spirit, this can-do attitude,” says Scott Crockatt, wit the Calgary Chamber.

“I think that’s just a great example that even when we see a little bit of a downturn, that can often be the best thing that ever happens to people.”

Jiwa and Kumar put their beef through a secret tenderizing process and the chili sauce is from scratch.

They say these beef wings are ready to take off.

“It’s cowtown, and people love beef,” says Kumar.

Jiwa and Kumar will debut their beef wings at the Lilac Festival on May 31.

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They are hoping to drum up enough money to get a food truck on the road for next season, and maybe even sell at the Calgary Stampede.