Teaching teens business smarts

An appreciation of sucess through entrepreneurship

Teen Girl Entrepreneurs

"She's Got Her Own" Business Competition

By: Naya Frazier

"Every day, in every way, I am getting stronger and stronger," the chorus of teen voices echoes from the tiny classroom.

Believe it or not, the strong girls behind the desks are in boot camp. They're flexing their mental muscles for the ultimate test of financial fitness, the "She's Got Her Own" Business competition. This six-week program gives girls in middle and high school the opportunity to create their own business plans, while receiving coaching in financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills.

Kristy Johnson, a self-made entrepreneur from age sixteen, is the executive director of "She Counts". In 2009, she started the organization to develop the much needed skills for financial success in girls like her three daughters.

"When the girls come in," Johnson says, "entrepreneurship is not something that they are really interested in. They don't know what it is, and often can't even pronounce it."

But at the end of the program, girls emerge with the poise and confidence that budding entrepreneur Janice Wilkins achieved.

"My business plan is called Outlook Public Relations and Full Service Marketing Agency," Janice says. "I want to take that one special niche that each individual has and make it a household name."

As the girls progress, "entrepreneurship" goes from a funny sounding five syllable word to an invaluable life skill.

"Entrepreneurship is important to me because it's an opportunity to be creative and get money for it," says Adrienne Edwards, a 7 th grader who learned how to crochet a year ago at a library event. She has used this skill and her creativity as the inspiration behind her business, Crochet Rainbow, a retailer of her own custom-made crocheted wear.

"It helps you be more independent— not always following behind others but doing things for yourself," responds Jasmine Doles, who has spent the past weeks working on a business model for a full-service salon, Hair Dior.

So what goes into growing one idea into a full-fledged business plan?

"It takes a lot of time," admits Amira Hasib, whose brainchild is "Feed the Starving Artist," a management agency for struggling up-and-coming talent.

But the work the girls learn is well worth it.

"Just to be able to say I got this on my own, it's mine," dreams Janice on her future as a self-made business owner.

The girls close out the program day with the "She Counts" creed. The final lines of the affirmation ring through the classroom as the girls recite them with gusto:

"I'm a girl who stands up for all girls to be educated, empowered, and economically independent because SHE COUNTS!"

The "She's Got Her Own" Business Competition Finale took place on Saturday, May 19 at Irvine Nature.  The following teams took first, second and third place.

First Place : Destiny Murray and Mariah Johnson

Second Place : DeJoire' Frazier and Mya Croxton

Third Place : Bre'Asia Gillis and Jazmyn Mason

The winners split $1,103 in prize money as start-up capital for their businesses.

Naya Frazier

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