Youth Entrepreneurship is a term that refers to young people, (ages 12-18) who aspire to be or already are, owners of their own small business. While most entrepreneurs are adults, (age range usually 28-55), young people can and do start simple businesses, (usually home based) during their middle & high school years.
Many of these young entrepreneurs accomplish business success without help from adults or access to quality entrepreneurial education. Entrepreneurial/business classes are normally not available as part of a high school’s curriculum. Can you imagine how much more successful these young people would be if they were taught at an early age the basics of business planning, marketing, finance and accounting by experienced entrepreneurial mentors/teachers?
The demand for entrepreneurial education/training, mentoring and access to business loans among youth entrepreneurs is growing not only on the USA domestic side but on the international side as well. More and more countries are embracing capitalism, free enterprise and entrepreneurship which is fueling demand for different forms of micro loans, (loan size $500-$5,000) or start up seed capital. Several organizations, (mostly non-profit, 501-C3s) have been formed in the last 10 years to fill the demand for education and funding but we will still need more supply to close the gap especially here in the California, the most entrepreneurial focused state in the USA.
Other domestic organizations include the Youth Entrepreneurship Foundation which is a Midwest non-profit that provides training and education to high school students in several cities in the states of Kansas, Arizona, Georgia and Kentucky. Their programs are being offered in over 59 high schools.
The California Foundation Fund, another 501-C3, is marketing a Youth Entrepreneurship program called “Future Boss”. Future Boss is headquartered in Chula Vista and due to its proximity to the Mexican border the majority of the enrolled students are Hispanic. The program is very comprehensive with many individual success stories.
Many of our local Inland Empire based colleges and universities are creating programs for young entrepreneurs.
On the international scene, organizations such as Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship, (London, England) and Youth Entrepreneurship Club, (Chania, Greece) have been created and are growing.
Mentoring youth entrepreneurs and providing them access to business funding accomplishes several goals:
- It provides them the basic knowledge they need to start a business
- It helps them to become better employees as they now understand how a business works
- It encourages them to pursue higher education to complete advanced business/entrepreneurship courses
- For those youths from low income households, it can help them break the cycle of poverty through income earned from a successful business
- It provides another life and career option in a tight job market
In summary, there is a growing segment in the business loan funding market which I call “Youthtrepreneurs.” This demographic is here to stay and will only grow in numbers based on the factors listed above. Baby boomer owners are getting older and are exiting the privately owned business market to enjoy their “golden years”.
We need to mentor and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs and the younger they are when we assist them the better. Is there a younger version of Mark Zuckerberg sitting in their high school history class dreaming of starting and owning their own business? If their business idea is solid they should never have to think about giving up on their dream. As working adults it is our job to help them make their dreams come true.