‘Business can be about more than just making a profit,’ says Benjamin Shantz
Business is in Benjamin Shantz’s blood. While his friends spent their summers in high school working shifts at local fast food restaurants, Shantz was running his own lawn care operation, Benjamin’s Lawn Mowing and Services.
The business earned Shantz enough spending money during each summer, and while his friends were obligated to work the hours their supervisors scheduled for them, he enjoyed the flexibility making his own schedule afforded him.
But Shantz says one of the biggest benefits of running his own business was relational.
Today, Shantz is in his first year of studies at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). He received a full tuition scholarship for his first year of study from CMU’s Redekop School of Business as well as Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).“Mowing lawns in my neighbourhood allowed me to build relationships and get to know people in the community,” the 19-year-old says. “I always enjoyed that, as opposed to having a job where I didn’t interact with anyone.”
Shantz says he gets his entrepreneurial spirit from his family.
“My grandfather and dad were involved in business, and my dad was big on teaching my brother and I how to manage our money,” he says.
His grandfather, Glen, was an electrician with his own contracting company who also owned a number of rental properties. Meanwhile, Shantz’s father, Rick, owned his own IT consulting firm for a number of years.
Participating in CMU’s Outtatown Discipleship School last year also influenced Shantz to study business, and it gave him a new perspective on what running a business can look like.
While in Guatemala at the beginning of 2013, he and his fellow students worked with a ministry called Solomon’s Porch. The ministry includes a café, and the income generated by the café is used to further the Solomon’s Porch ministry.
“I saw how business can be about more than just making a profit,” Shantz says. “It can also be used to give back to a community – in this case, to finance a missional organization that builds houses for people.”
As a result of his experience abroad, Shantz is working towards a double major in Business and International Development Studies at CMU.
While he’s not sure what sort of business he wants to be involved with after he graduates, he knows it will be the kind of business that reflects the things he has come to value over the past few years.
“It will be a business that’s tied to the community and relationships and helping people,” he says.