02/05/2013 02:07 pm ET Updated Apr 07, 2013

Building a Better Life With Entrepreneurship -- An Emerging Entrepreneur Story

Co-written by Brandy Bertram and Moo Moo one of our Emerging Entrepreneurs

"My to do list right now -- graduate, go to college, get my own business, get rich," says 17-year-old Jamoine. "What's rich?" she ponders, repeating my question. "Rich is having everything I need, and being able to provide for myself and my family."

Jamoine, or Moo Moo to us, grew up on Denver's East Side, surrounded by gang violence and limited opportunity. "I've lived it my whole life. I've seen family taken to jail; seen a lot of friends die." "But" she says, "seeing that makes me want to do better. I don't want to end up like that." Her motivation is one shared by many of our participants. "If I graduate and (launch) my business I could get enough money to move my family and get us out of this."

For Moo Moo, participating in YouthBiz's Emerging Entrepreneurs program is akin to a dress rehearsal for the life she is working to create. Today, she is preparing for her second semester in Emerging Entrepreneurs, our second tier program where youth work in small teams to launch businesses in a highly supported environment. I ask her how participating in these seemingly unrelated businesses (last semester was greeting cards and this semester her team has chosen candles) helps her get to her goals. "I came back for Emerging because I am still working on my idea. I need one more semester (of practice). I'm getting myself ready for what comes next". I ask her what she's practicing for. "Eventually," she tells me, "I'd like to open a restaurant with my best friend -- a Mexican and Soul Food Restaurant where you can taste the history in the food."

As we ponder the potential success of fried chicken tostadas, I inquire, as I do with all of our youth, about what part of the program, or the organization, captures her attention, and keeps her engaged. She tells me that "At YouthBiz, you can be from anywhere or be anybody. When you come here it doesn't matter. You're going to come out of it with new skills, new goals, (and) new opportunities. When we're together it's like another family."

For a young lady who values family above all else, that's high praise.

Emerging Entrepreneurs brings entrepreneurship to life through intensive business ownership experience. Participants work in teams to identify an entrepreneurial opportunity, prepare a business for launch, then run a profitable enterprise. Along the journey, young entrepreneurs work to develop independent business concepts that reflect and support their unique talents and interests.

Core Content

•Entrepreneurial Leadership & Ethics

•Value Chain Analysis & Conscious Consumerism

•Project & Resource Management

•Community-Based Networking, Education & Outreach

•Entrepreneurial Action Planning


•Application of high level entrepreneurial & leadership skills

•Advancement of opportunity seeking and risk assessment skills

•Development of professional networks through business management

•Creation of a personalized, independent business model for future launch

Support YouthBiz via the JobRaising Challenge by clicking here.