Unleashing Youth Entrepreneurship

It's never too early to develop an entrepreneurial interest and spirit. When we talk about entrepreneurs we often subconsciously refer to adults, but youth are more than capable of creating and sustaining businesses as well. Two organizations that help support and develop youth entrepreneurs, Ogallala Commons and YESCarolina, focus on tapping the energy and potential that lies in youth to transform their interests and values into successful enterprises.

Ogallala Commons, a nonprofit that works to foster a holistic approach to community socio-economic development in the rural Great Plains region centered over the High Plains-Ogallala Aquifer, views youth engagement as critical in helping the region's overall development and vitality. Last month, the organization held its 4th Annual Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Fair. The purpose of the Fair is to encourage youth to pursue business ventures in their hometowns and connect them with an adult support system. Thirty-four teens presented their ideas with the teens associated with the three top-rated ideas receiving cash prizes.  

Also last month, one week after the Fair, Ogallala Commons sponsored Campo Youth Engagement Day, a conference geared toward youth in Baca County, CO to promote youth leadership and community service as a means for being proactive in planning for the future. Ogallala Commons' executive director, Dr. Darryl Birkenfeld, gave a keynote speech through which he informed students about skill-building internships offered by Ogallala Commons and encouraged them to consider building their futures in their rural hometowns after completing their education.

YESCarolina, a nonprofit that focuses on developing youth entrepreneurs in South Carolina, trains educators from across the state to teach young people entrepreneurship skills. The only organization of its kind in the state, YESCarolina views youth entrepreneurship as essential to the future of South Carolina'sbusiness development.

YEScarolina has trained and certified over 500 South Carolina teachers on the subject of entrepreneurship. Through the training of these teachers and its Summer Business Camps, YESCarolina has helped thousands of students learn business development skills and start their own enterprises. YESCarolina recently released a new book, The Spirit of Outreach, which is a compilation of 20 stories of youth that have launched successful small businesses as a result of the knowledge and skills they gained through YESCarolina programs. The book is authored by the organization's Founder and Executive Director Jimmy Bailey, who previously served three terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1988 to 1994. The Spirit of Outreach is available to purchase through Amazon.com.

Related Content