Seeding a Successful Future: Youth Entrepreneurship

Supporting the entrepreneurial development of young people is a key step in creating successful entrepreneurial communities. Research shows that youth involved learning how to start and run their own business tend to consider career and educational aspirations they had not been exposed to prior to learning about entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship camps offer young people an opportunity to explore business ownership.
Entrepreneurship camps offer young people an opportunity to explore business ownership.

Development of entrepreneurial interests and skills may benefit young people in several ways:

  • Increased willingness to take personal responsibility
  • Increased earning power
  • Enhanced social skills
  • Improved grades
  • Increased participation in school-related activities

A first step is to find out if the local school system and/or youth serving organizations are currently working with young people interested in entrepreneurship and join forces with them. In the event there are no activities in place, the following resources may prove useful in establishing youth-based entrepreneurship efforts:

  • Be the “E”is a youth-based entrepreneurship curriculum from the National 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System. The objectives of these materials is to increase knowledge and skills of how to exploit a business opportunity and be organized in business endeavors.
  • SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business has assembled a list of links to useful web sites for young people interested in starting their own business.
  • Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs (ACE) is an international organization that enables students to operate small business ventures and interact with other aspiring entrepreneurs. ACE has chapters throughout the nation.
  • Kellogg Entrepreneurship Internship Program (KEIP) helps undergraduate and graduate students learn about entrepreneurship by becoming immersed in the day-to-day reality of starting and running a business. Colleges, universities, and entrepreneurship organizations participate by applying through a request-for-proposal (RFP) process for a grant to administer the program. KEIP interns work side-by-side with successful entrepreneurs, learning from them and oftentimes contributing ideas to solve problems, increase productivity, or save money.
  • Future Business Leaders of America—Phi Beta Lambda is an educational association of students preparing for careers in business and business-related fields. The association has four divisions: FBLA for high school students; FBLA Middle Level for junior high, middle, and intermediate school students; PBL for post-secondary students; and the Professional Alumni Division for business people, educators, and parents who support the goals of the association.
  • Gen-X Idea Café caters to the business needs of Generation-X entrepreneurs with information, advice, and fun. The site welcomes biz fans of every age and includes stories of Gen-X business successes.
  • Junior Achievement seeks to educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise, business, and economics to improve the quality of their lives. JA programs begin at the elementary school level, teaching children how they can impact the world around them as individuals, workers, and consumers. JA programs continue through the middle and high school grades, preparing students for future economic and workforce issues they’ll face.
  • The Mint: Be Your Own Boss provides middle and high school students with advice, quizzes, pro and con discussions of business ownership, and other business education resources.
  • National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. The mission of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship is to teach entrepreneurship to low-income young people, ages 11-18, so they can become economically productive members of society by improving their academic, business, technology, and life skills.
  • Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) is a collaborative effort between business and education. SIFE teams improve the quality of life and the standard of living around the world by teaching the principles of market economics, entrepreneurship, business ethics, and personal financial success. The program is active on more than 1,000 college and university campuses in more than 25 countries.
  • The mission of YoungBiz is to empower youth with entrepreneurial, business, and financial skills through innovative education and real-world experience. The organization exists to help youth take their decision-making skills and use them to make great financial and business decisions. Geared toward teenagers.
  • Youth Venture empowers young people to create and launch their own enterprises, and through these enterprises, to take greater responsibility for their lives and communities. This site provides information on getting started and examples of successful projects across the country. Geared toward students 12 to 20.


Prepared by Greg Wise, University of Wisconsin-Extension