06/09/2010 01:47 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

WATCH: Owning a Grocery Store at Age 19

Originally published on, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By Denise Tejada

(download mp3)

OAKLAND-At 19 years old, James Berk is the youngest of seven owners of Mandela Foods Cooperative in West Oakland, California. Berk is also the most recent recipient of the Redford Center's "Art of Activism" award.

Mandela Foods is backed by the Mandela MarketPlace, a non-profit organization that provides civic engagement, economic and entrepreneurial opportunity to low-income residents and minority farmers. The 25 hundred square foot grocery store is in its first year of business. Mandela Foods is located directly in front of West Oakland's BART station. It offers naturally grown and affordable foods from local farms within a 100 mile radius from the store location.

Berk's path to entrepreneurship wasn't easy. He dropped out of fifth grade, never attended middle school, and never obtained a high school diploma. He credits the Mandela MarketPlace for keeping him close to his community and on track towards achieving his goals.

Check out the video to hear Berk talk about how difficult it was for him to access healthy food while growing up in Oakland.

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