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
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.”
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.