BIG Launches Youth Entrepreneurship Program
By Eminah Quintyne, Feature Writer
STATESBORO — Georgia Southern University’s Business Innovation Group, in partnership with Work Source Coastal Georgia, launched a week-long summer camp called the Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) to educate youth about self-employment as a career path.
Through a series of workshops and experiential learning models, participants learned how to develop their business ideas into successful products or services through application-based activities in which they learned by doing.
Real-world education and training are the bedrock of YEP, which seeks to engage students and teach them how to think and how to develop an entrepreneurial approach to business ideas, and then give them activities that allow them to use what they are learning. Participants in the program are students in need of educational support and skills-based growth.
“It’s important to support youth who experience barriers because some of the simple things that we as adults may not have experienced and think are unfathomable are a reality for these students,” said Marilyn Creech-Harris, career facilitator for WorkSource Coastal Youth. “Something as simple as being able to communicate with employers and speak and project one’s self; having informed conversations about the job market and what is acceptable and expected on a job; being consistent in your work performance and attendance. When you have youth who may have never been given chores, they lack insight on how important it is to do things with excellence and efficiency.”
Students attended a five-day workshop that guided them from their business ideas to customer discovery, pitching their business, product prototypes with AutoCAD software or 3D printers, advice on raising capital, business infrastructure and their final investor pitch.
Student Andre Grant-Battey, a new high school graduate, pitched a business idea called Termo-gnat. His product seeks to eliminate gnats and mosquitoes through dryer sheets and a face and body lotion — both of which have active ingredients that ward off pests from your skin and your clothes.
“The best part was living the college experience for a few days, and meeting new people, said Grant-Battey. “I have learned about what it takes to become a business entrepreneur. I came for the experience and to gather more information about running a business.”
In addition to their training, each YEP participant received a Samsung Galaxy tablet, and meals and transportation were provided. The five-day camp gave students 42 hours of training and development they wouldn’t have received anywhere else.
“ The final pitch ceremony was a great opportunity for students to show-case what they learned, for the others it was a seed that was planted for the future,” said Creech-Harris.
Work Source Coastal Georgia of one of 19 local workforce development offices throughout the state, and encompasses 10 counties in the region including Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Screven. Their work is the result of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, signed by President Barack Obama in July 2014.
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