Youth entrepreneurship isn’t just about curbside lemonade stands. Generation Y has been making its own income in innovative ways. For many of them, that means entrepreneurship. According to Kauffman Foundation, young entrepreneurship in the U.S. is on the rise, with the 20-34 age group comprising 29 percent of the total new entrepreneurship activity in 2011.
Entrepreneurship can be an exciting adventure. You don’t necessarily need a business degree or the backing of an investor to go into business, you just need an idea. Of course, starting a business has its challenges. This is especially true for young entrepreneurs without business experience. Specific barriers to entrepreneurship, including the inability to access capital needed to get a business going, lack of knowledge needed to run a small business, concerns with overcoming current debt burdens, and few mentors from whom they can learn.
Whether you are curious to know what it takes to turn your entrepreneurial dream into a reality, or need hands-on assistance and training in the fundamentals of leadership, business ownership and financial literacy, the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce, local high schools and area organizations offer teens and young people a chance to learn about entrepreneurship from the experts. These programs help young people learn the skills they need to start their own businesses.
The Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur Guide contains helpful information for any young entrepreneur looking for resources and financial support to start a business. The site includes free online courses, links to training and support, and other initiatives from across the U.S. government intended to assist youth to succeed in business. Current resources include a self-paced online training course that walks you through the steps of turning a business idea into a reality, and information on student loan deferment that enables college graduates, including those looking to start a business, to lower student loan repayments.
Chamber members are provided with the fundamental knowledge about small business opportunities and resources available to them, thus encouraging economic self-sufficiency and personal growth within the local community. In addition, through the Ahwatukee Chamber Community Foundation (ACCF), the Entrepreneurial Scholarship Fund is exclusively for local area high school seniors in the Ahwatukee area. The goal of the achievement-based scholarship is to help an Ahwatukee student reach his/her educational goals by providing a scholarship that acknowledges entrepreneurial excellence.
Invaluable donors are critical to maintaining our ongoing efforts to support Ahwatukee’s entrepreneurial spirit. Contributions for this scholarship may be made by calling (480) 753-7676. The ACCF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was established in 2011 to strengthen our community by investing in educational excellence and collaborative partnerships.
Thousands of young people across the U.S. are unlocking their entrepreneurial potential as the next generation of American entrepreneurs. These programs are not about making life easier for Millennials. It’s about inspiring and helping them realize it’s never too early — or too late — to pursue dreams of business ownership. It’s about ensuring that, when they become the 30-, 40- and 50-something leaders of tomorrow, they will have the capacity and ability to lead America forward.
• Anne Gill is president and chief executive officer of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at (480) 753-7676 or email@example.com.