way to get children interested in entrepreneurship is through special programs offered through community-based organizations, professional organizations and by local colleges and universities. Often the local chapters of the NAACP and the Urban League, and organizations like the YMCA/YWCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America can serve as resources in identifying specific programs. In choosing the right program for their child, parents need to be aware of such things as the length and depth of the curriculum, the expertise of the instructors and commitment of the program administrator(s) and the funding available to finance start-ups.
Amy Stokes is director of Studio Air, a hands-on airbrush business program that was started last January to provide children in the South Side neighborhoods of Chicago with opportunities to work as both artists and entrepreneurs. She points out that Studio Air, which is sponsored by South Bank Neighborhood Institute in Chicago, is different from most teen entrepreneurship programs. Constructed around the needs of many of the neighborhood’s children, Studio Air, which actually makes and markets products such as T-shirts, allows youngsters to cycle in and out of the program depending on what’s going on in their lives. The program never assumes that kids, once business knowledgeable, are ready to launch an operation of their own.
“Not all young people are going to be entrepreneurs when we want them to be,” says Stokes. “The point is that they learn the lessons, see the way things go and are able to take those lessons and use them at different points in their lives.” Despite the constant change in program participants, Stokes is quick to point out that every child involved with Studio Air takes responsibility for the business, whether it’s signing time sheets, organizing work teams for a particular project or participating in client meetings and presentations.
Students also learn the business of business, such as pricing and costing of goods sold, as well as risk evaluation and peer accountability. Most importantly, they learn that financial reward is a direct consequence of their ability to deliver a quality product.
Not all entrepreneurship programs are geared toward urban or inner city children. B.E. Unlimited’s Kidpreneurs Konference. for example, “offers middle class children the same opportunities for exposure that urban children get,” says Crocker. The program is becoming so popular, she says, that plans are in the works to expand it and publish the newsletter bimonthly.
BRING BUSINESS INTO THE CLASSROOM
Parents can also advocate for the inclusion of business education in their local schools. In 1985, George Waters Jr., and his partner, Aaron Bocage, established the Education, Training and Enterprise Center (EDTEC), a training and curriculum development concern in Camden, New Jersey, that has done significant work in the field of youth entrepreneurship. “Business education can be incorporated throughout the curriculum–for instance, in math and English classes,” Waters says. “It’s practical and it’s real. And learning about money turns people on.”
Organizations like Junior Achievement and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership have also developed school-based programs for