Turning “street smart” youth into “business smart” young entrepreneurs is the goal of the summer program known as Biz camp. The program that offers training to middle school students, has been conducted in several areas of the state for seven years. Here in the Palmetto State the program is a collaboration of The organization YESCarolina, short for Youth Entreprenuership South carolina and National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship along with local school districts and local business leaders.The three week program is in its second year in Richland District Two in the Columbia area at Dent Middle School. Darrin Thomas, President of Black Pages USA in Columbia says local teachers and local business leaders are involved in teaching youngsters about starting an enterprise.
“Whether you’re going to be a corporation, single proprietor, LLC, and they talk about how to establish a business, looking at ideas by examining the types of business that are out there and bringing in those persons representing those businesses. They then start crafting a business plan including how many employees, how you’re going to pay them, and how you’re going to market your business.”
Thomas says youngsters are rewarded for their creativity in developing a business plan with start up money to make their business plan a reality. The first place cash award is $2500, second place is $1500, third place is $750.
Thomas says the program brings the business and education communities together in order to share with youngsters business knowledge they will find useful for the rest of their lives. “YESCarolina is tied to NFTE, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship and it sets up partnerships with school districts and colleges. The teachers are trained, the curriculum materials are brought in through NFTE and its is funded by foundation dollars.”
Thomas says a shining example of what young business minds can conceive is the “rose pedal kids” in Charleston. Thomas says their work spark the interest of YESCarolina founder and CEO Jimmy Bailey. “We had them actually participate two years ago at our Black Expo down in Charleston. These kids actually got a wedding contract to design flowers using sweet grass for a lady’s wedding there.”