Three final businesses have made it to the NFTE Greater Los Angeles finals May 22nd! These young entrepreneurs are competing to win seed money and continue on the #roadtonationals in #NewYorkCity October 16th. Digital Correspondent Sarah Strackhouse News reports on the steps NFTE is taking to kickstart the #entrepreneurialmindset!
Antonia Castro – Alumni Council Vice President of NFTE LA Metro
Kim Small – Director of NFTE LA Metro
Leo Gestetner – Chairman of NFTE LA
Maynard Brown – Teacher, Founder of NFTE LA
“I have a question for you guys. So how many of you guys drive?”
Students from around the country are competing for a chance to win financial backing, to take their business from an idea to a product. The network for teaching entrepreneurship or NFTE youth entrepreneurship challenge is well underway in different regions across the U S, and in LA alumni council vice-president Antonia Castro says she understands the feeling
“I have come full circle,” says Castro. “So I actually took the program back in. When I was in high school in 2013, and I went all the way to nationals.”
Creating a heat resistant, breathable slip resistant sleeve, which he sold to restaurants, hairstylists and airplane engineers was just one of the benefits of joining the program.
“[I] grew up just where these students have grown up,” says Castro, “in communities that have a lot of barriers and a lot of violence, gangs, drugs, and all of this type of situations. We literally lived right next door to a drug Lord who was kicked down by SWAT, maybe every two or three months. And it was just for us growing up, that was normal. And I say, Oh, the swap team is here. It’s like put on a show for us. But you realize that. And I see that and I was like, that’s not normal. That’s not something that a lot of our students should be seen, but they do.”
“The importance of creating economic wealth and stability in our community and not looking for others to bring it in, but taking charge of our future, and it’s urgent,” says NFTE LA Metro Director, Kim Small. “The community needs to get involved, and the community needs to back with the students who are doing.” Small says she sees the sense of ownership and pride, NFTE instills in these students. “It’s so exciting. We’ve got such great kids and the confidence that they exude from going through the NFTE program has been inspiring, and definitely show stopping.”
“In the end, what we’re really teaching, is how to think differently and how to have confidence. And that’s why our graduates on average 50% more than their classmates,” says Leo Gestetner, Chairman of NFTE LA. “I mean, the difference you can make these kids’ lives. You know, if you get the right start from now, makes a difference to the rest of your life.”
In just over 30 years, NFTE has reached more than a million students around the world. Its entrepreneurship curriculum is now in thousands of public, private and charter schools and community based programs across the country.
“If you can reach one. You’ve changed a life,” says NFTE LA founder and teacher, Maynard Brown, “and in that one, it’s kind of like you throw a pebble out into a Lake, and you watch the ripple effect.”
Castro says the ripple effect is real.
“I have a four year old baby boy,” she explains. “He was diagnosed with minor down syndrome when he was born. And to me, he is my biggest passion, my motivation. He is the love of my life. He is the reason that I do all these things, and there’s a big insight here on the entrepreneurship world. And they’re such a big movement going on with people who have disabilities. It’s just so amazing to be impactful. I would not be the person that I am if it wasn’t because of NFTE.”
The NFTE LA youth entrepreneurship challenge finals are May 22nd. Then the winners continue on the road to national finals this fall.
For Real News, I’m Sarah Strackhouse.