Memphis teens learn about entrepreneurship

This week more than 20 entrepreneurs visited five Memphis high schools and the Davis YMCA Y Achievers program in Whitehaven to share with students the lessons they've learned about business and entrepreneurship.

The events were a part of Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South’s JA Launch Lessons events, in honor of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

They included Thomas DuBose speaking to students at Davis YMCA, on Thursday, Nov. 21. DuBose is a State Farm agency field executive and partner in Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park locations in Southaven and Collierville. 

He told about 40 students about working alongside his father, as a young person, in his father’s janitorial business, helping new State Farm agents start their careers, and what led him to co-owning trampoline parks. 

He gave general advice, telling the students to think about their goals and the skills they would need to make those dreams successful. He also mentioned considerations including capital and employees required.

“If you want to go in business for yourself, you have to have a plan,” he told the group.

He told them to get involved with extracurricular activities like sports, choir and band.

And, for the student who asked what to do for people who don’t believe in your dreams, he said, “Don’t let anyone deter you or determine what your path to success looks like.”

Fifteen-year-old Jalen Mask found DuBose’s talk very interesting. 

“It was a very good way to teach young people the value of entrepreneurship,” he said.

Jalen, who wants to become a doctor, said he would need entrepreneurship to potentially run a private practice.

Jakira Youngblood, 15, said she wants to start a hair and nail business. 

She thought DuBose’s talk was great and was appreciative to hear the perspective of a black business owner.

“I was interested because he made his own way,” Jakira said. “I felt like he gave all the info I think I need.”

Junior Achievement aims to educate local students about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. One of the ways that the organization can do that, according to president and CEO Leigh Mansberg, is through events like the ones this week.

“(By) meeting members of the community who are entrepreneurs, who have the courage to step out into the world and try new things,” she said.

Mansberg said the organization tried to put the “right person, at the right place.” That means the entrepreneurs selected for each school either transact with the community, have grown up in the community or can identify with the community in different ways.

Besides Whitehaven, JA Launch Lessons were also held at Central, Cordova, Millington, Germantown, and MLK College Preparatory high schools.

The business owners or principals of their business who spoke at the schools included Kenneth Worles,  Three(i) Creative Communications; Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley, managing attorney at Smiley & Associates; Brad Shapiro, Shapiro and Company Architects; Kelvin Woods, The Tee Shirt Lab; Phillip Ashley, Phillip Ashley Chocolates; David Boyd, D'bo’s Wings; Jeremy Calhoun, STS Enterprise Corp.; Samuel Nelson, Massage on the Go; and Steven Douglas, A+ Technology LLC.

Junior Achievement’s goal is to reach 15,000 children this year: 6,000 through its JA BizTown program and 9,000 at place-based programs at their schools. At the JA BizTown program, students are taught 12 lessons then visit the model town located Downtown and run a business there.

Other Memphis organizations held youth-oriented Global Entrepreneurship Week events. On Thursday, the monthly Memphis on the Move series hosted a local keynote speaker and local high-school and college entrepreneur panel focused on youth entrepreneurship access. Launch Pad partnered with LITE Memphis for the event.

*Originally posted on the Daily Memphian by Elle Perry.

Ellen Bateman

Director for U.S. Ecosystems

Ellen is the Director for U.S. Ecosystems with the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Her primary responsibilities include supporting the… More