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Youth entrepreneurship could be key to financial recovery

By BY EILEEN BONNER
May 18, 2011 at 12:18 a.m.


NEED HELP?Contact the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center, 3402 N. Ben Wilson St., at 361-575-8944, or visit www.sbdc.uhv.edu.

Do adults underestimate our youth? Can entrepreneurship be taught? Are youth entrepreneurship programs a piece of our recovery picture? There is mounting evidence across the country that the answer is a resounding "yes" to all three questions.

Youth entrepreneurship programs successfully introduce concepts and offer opportunities for hands-on experience to children in elementary, middle and high schools. These programs are meant to enhance an entrepreneur's ability to develop new ideas and create new jobs.

Because success breeds success, some of the most effective programs incorporate projects that kickstart real businesses.

Mentorship is a powerful motivator and programs often pair successful business owners with promising youth. Creative vision is key to entrepreneurship and to these programs, which rely on community involvement and mentor volunteers.

Upon review of some of the success stories documented, a common theme is the surprisingly creative and expansive ideas that our youth generate. A mentor who listens and offers positive and constructive feedback as well as networking avenues can shore up some of those critical tools an entrepreneur needs to take effective action.

An intriguing program through the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship - www.EnergizingEntrepreneurs.org - incorporates an assessment of local resources and involves youth in determining opportunities to fulfill unmet needs. The program propels youth and community leaders to complete a single, doable youth-oriented project based on the assessment study within the timeframe of the program.

Success breeds success.

One Nebraska program successfully funded youth entrepreneurship classes for that community. Another enticed local leadership to write letters of encouragement to graduating seniors to return home after furthering their education and funded tangible reminders in the form of a hometown mailbox to keep their dreams of coming back home alive.

There are programs that make curriculum available at low to no cost and not only help our youth who would be entrepreneurs, but also those who will work for the entrepreneurs of the future. A better understanding of what an entrepreneur really deals with daily ultimately makes for a better employee.

Programs such as these offer our youth exposure to successful entrepreneurs and interaction with mentors who inspire, uplift and encourage positive can-do attitudes. The truly effective programs give our youth immediate opportunities for success. These programs enhance youth vision and for many are their first exposure to the realm of non-employee productivity.

Look for and encourage these programs in your area and watch for the results to come.

The University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center helps entrepreneurs, young and old, in evaluating, planning and implementing their vision.

is a UHV-SBDC senior business advisor who works in Refugio and Aransas counties. Contact her at 361-575-8944 bonnere@uhv.edu.

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