In­spir­ing young en­trepreneurs one kid at a time

Prince Ge­orge’s County Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Corp. hosts first Kid-Preneur Day to give lo­cal kids a leg on up their fu­ture in busi­ness

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

In­spir­ing young en­trepreneurs to start or build their busi­nesses in the county while em­pow­er­ing ris­ing stars of to­mor­row, the Prince Ge­orge’s County Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (EDC) hosted its first Kid-Preneur Day Aug. 3 at the EDC’s head­quar­ters in Largo.

The event, hosted in part­ner­ship with Op­er­a­tion HOPE, Inc., pro­vided more than 100 child en­trepreneurs — rang­ing from ages 9 to 12 — with a unique op­por­tu­nity to learn the fun­da­men­tals of busi­ness, de­velop their own busi­ness and fi­nan­cial plans, cre­ate their own busi­ness cards as well as learn how to pitch their busi­ness through the teach­ers from Op­er­a­tion HOPE’s Busi­ness in a Box En­trepreneur Train­ing Pro­gram, which is de­signed to help young en­trepreneurs turn their ideas and dreams of start­ing a new busi­ness into a re­al­ity, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from the cor­po­ra­tion.

EDC Pres­i­dent and CEO Jim Cole­man launched Kid-Preneur Day af­ter meet­ing with 10-year-old aspir­ing en­trepreneur Ava Valentine and 12-year-old Gabrielle Wil­liams, pres­i­dent of Glo­ri­ous Pas­tries by Gabrielle. Cole­man said it is never too early to em­power young peo­ple as it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of adults to give kids a leg up on their fu­ture.

“What I’m re­ally ex­cited about is that there was so much learn­ing go­ing on,” said Cole­man. “I know that kids at this age, from nine to 12, that’s when they’re most in­no­va­tive, that’s when they’re most in­quis­i­tive [and] they want to learn and un­der­stand, ‘Why does that work? Why does this work?’ … Right now, they don’t see bar­ri­ers. They’re fierce. [This is the time] when they re­ally can be con­vinced that they can do any­thing they want in their lives.”

Kid-Preneur Day was filled with in­for­ma­tion from a va­ri­ety of busi­ness ex­perts, in­clud­ing 16-year-old en­trepreneur Gabrielle Jor­dan who spoke to her peers about how she be­gan her own jew­elry busi­ness, Jewelz of Jor­dan, at the age of 9 and then went

on to be­come a best-selling au­thor and mo­ti­va­tional speaker. April Richard­son, pres­i­dent and CEO of D.C. Sweet Po­tato Cakes, also spoke to the young par­tic­i­pants about how she be­lieved in and sur­rounded her­self with peo­ple who helped her busi­ness take off, the press re­lease noted.

“I’ve learned that when you have a busi­ness you can help other peo­ple, called net­work­ing. You can ba­si­cally make a deal and spon­sor them or ex­change busi­ness cards,” said 10-year-old Au­dre Dab­ney who plans to start his own busi­ness called Car Re­al­tor. “I feel like I’m im­por­tant and that my thoughts can be shared with­out crit­i­cism and stuff. … One thing that re­ally in­spired me is when Gabrielle Jor­dan spoke about not just think­ing out the box and go out of your comfort zone. … She said don’t let fear take over you and don’t give up. Crit­i­cism is go­ing to come but you have to push through it.”

Wil­liams, who cochaired the event with Valentine, said she was glad to be a part of KidPreneur Day as she is now think­ing about whether she wants to keep bak­ing her pas­tries at home or open a bak­ery. Af­ter learn­ing a lot about fi­nanc­ing, an im­por­tant part of her de­ci­sion-mak­ing process, Wil­liams said she gained more con­fi­dence that her busi­ness will suc­ceed.

“There’s not a lot of young en­trepreneurs so I thought it was re­ally good that [the eco­nomic devel­op­ment cor­po­ra­tion] had a KidPreneur Day,” she said. “I was telling [my peers] to think of their names if they didn’t come up with one and what they wanted to do.”

“Even though par­ents say it’s their child’s busi­ness, you have to be in­volved with it be­cause you don’t know what they’re deal­ing with,” said Wil­liams’ mother, Ver­nice Wil­liams. “For me, I would def­i­nitely say the as­pect of count­ing num­bers. We would just bake and bake for events but I never kept track of the num­ber that she was bak­ing. … I learned now, when she’s bak­ing, to keep track of what is go­ing out — not just the money as­pect but the num­bers so she’s not thrown off when that ques­tion is given to her. … This event may be for kid­preneurs, but I’m learn­ing some as­pects [as an adult] as well.”

As a mem­ber of Op­er­a­tion Hope’s board of di­rec­tors, SunTrust Bank, Inc. Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent and Re­gional Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Man­ager Muriel Garr said SunTrust’s whole com­mit­ment is in fos­ter­ing fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity in fam­i­lies which start with chil­dren. The idea be­hind the EDC’s KidPreneur pro­gram is to show kids the power of work­ing to­gether and let­ting them know they are in con­trol of their own des­tiny, she said.

“The ba­sic premises of Op­er­a­tion Hope is fi­nan­cial well-be­ing. It’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing poor and be­ing broke and if you teach peo­ple ba­sic fun­da­men­tals of money, you will cre­ate an­other life for them,” Garr said. “From skin­care busi­nesses to dog care busi­nesses and health­care busi­nesses, you would be amazed at the depth of knowl­edge these chil­dren have. I think one of the larger take­aways from them is how easy it is for them to ac­tu­ally start a busi­ness. Be­cause of­ten you hear a lot of, ‘This is go­ing to be com­pli­cated. That’s go­ing to be com­pli­cated.’ But at the end of the day, they re­al­ize that they, even at their age, can start a busi­ness. They can do it and it’s not too early for them to start now.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE PRINCE GE­ORGE’S COUNTY ECO­NOMIC DEVEL­OP­MENT COR­PO­RA­TION

Six­teen-year-old Gabrielle Jor­dan, owner of Jewelz of Jor­dan, speaks to her peers about how she be­gan her busi­ness at age 9 and then went on to be­come a best-selling au­thor and mo­ti­va­tional speaker.

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