Since I founded NFTE in 1987, I have been privileged to meet young people from all over the country who share one key attribute: they aspire to own their own businesses. Every year NFTE brings together several of those young entrepreneurs into a series of competitions.
Jacob Tiemann and Destiny Davis from Ferguson hail from NFTE's St. Louis Metro program. They developed and presented their original business plans as part of their entrepreneurial studies at school using NFTE's award-winning, project-based curriculum.
Jacqueline is an inspiration to anyone with a goal and the resilience to achieve it. A Cambodian refugee, a mother of two, a licensed esthetician, a music manager, a web show host, Jacqueline uniquely embodies the value of doing.
Entrepreneurs not only provide us with critical innovation and keep us at the forefront of global markets, they also create ways to gain financial independence. So why has the percentage of start-ups in the U.S. dropped significantly in the last 35 years?
In many ways, an entrepreneur's career is like a football game. Both combine a swift pace with a highly competitive atmosphere. The "game" is divided into four quarters. In the first quarter you assess the other team's strengths and weaknesses based on your scouting report.
"In life, there are rubber balls and glass balls and you are always juggling. Your family is glass, so you can't drop them. Many of your work projects are rubber balls -- the assignment will still be there tomorrow and you need to plan in advance."
Studies imply that more than 80 percent of dropouts would have stayed in school if they believed it was more relevant to real life. Learning how to run a small business can help kids see how their core classes aren't just cruel tortures from adults.
This incident, spontaneous as it was, showed me how to implement my idea -- which was that imparting the principles of entrepreneurship and small-business startup to inner-city children could dramatically improve their lives.