This summer, hundreds of high school students across the country participated in NFTE summer BizCamps, creating original business ideas and business plans and presenting to a panel of judges for the opportunity to win seed funding. In just 2-3 weeks, they designed innovations that address profound needs (we’d like to buy some of them!).
Rodney Shearin created Glow Cane, inspired by his grandmother who now has difficulty seeing at night. The cane will also have a flash light in the handle.
Elijah Jobe designed Hoop Dreamz, an app to connect teen basketball players with one another and allow them to organize impromptu games as well as tournaments and tactics. Hoop Dreamz targets low-income communities to create a sense of comradery and a safe place for teen boys.
Ziya Roberts presents HeArt to HeArt, a social enterprise selling shirts in order to raise awareness about the hunger crisis in Sudan.
Top Hat Plushies from Michelle Lui will offer customized and child-safe plush toys. Asha Layton designed a non-profit that will work with young African American women to empower them to reach their potential. Other business plan concepts ranged from educational graphic novels to motivational speaking to music lessons to online charitable giving to diabetic socks.
Lui advises: “Thinking like an entrepreneur is important if one wants to get ahead in life by taking any available opportunities headed in his or her direction.” Other reflections included: “I really loved learning a new perspective of innovation" and “It was so inspiring and interesting to meet and network with the different entrepreneurs there.”
We have no doubt that the students who participated in these BizCamps will continue into the school year ahead recognizing and acting on opportunities to make things better for others.
And here-in lies the call to action for us: If we want young people to spend their summers creating, and to carry this drive and imagination into the rest of their lives, we can help by introducing them to the entrepreneurial mindset, the essential entrepreneurial skills and behaviors that will equip them to recognize opportunity and innovate in the face of challenges. If you’d like to learn more about how we can work together to empower youth globally, consider joining us with EY and Harvard Business Review for the Entrepreneurial Mindset Summit on October 27.
Hats off to all of the talented entrepreneurial young people who are working to solve problems. And special thanks to our summer BizCamp partners, including: Citi Foundation, which made possible 10 BizCamps through their Pathways to Progress initiative; and The MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Coca-Cola Foundation whose support of NFTE's Girls Entrepreneurship Project made possible 6 girls-focused Tech BizCamps.