Teaching entrepreneurship to Youth



Jay Maharjan (03.04.09)

In the time of the recession, I hear more people discussing the need for ‘sustainable’ innovation. As the legendary venture capitalist Eugene Kleiner would say – Even turkeys can fly in a high wind. In the times of strong economies, even bad companies can look good -. We need a new breed of entrepreneurs who understands the meaning of sustainable innovation and its impact in creating sustainable competitive advantage – creating companies and innovations that can weather through the tough economic times.

It is time for America to look at entrepreneurship from a whole new dimension. We need to address entrepreneurship at the grass roots and pre-college level. Gone are the days when getting a college degree would give you a pass to get a good job. Introducing a couple of college entrepreneurship courses won’t cut it anymore. What is innovation? Innovation requires dedicated entrepreneurs with right attitude, drive, and persistance to take risk. Xylus Sand has written an appropriate piece on innovation.

Innovation doesn’t come from the antiquated academic structure geared towards the industrial revolution of the 20th century. The world is changing. People and governments around the world are focusing on innovation…and the easy accessibility to innovative tools, combined with diminishing barrier to entry and the fast changing dynamics of social, political and economic condition is strongly influencing what once was the regional monopoly on innovation. But, the beauty is this is nothing new – the Union weathered through depression, several economic downturns and always came out strong. It can be done again, but we must follow different strategy – the strategy that will demand to bring about changes at the fundamental level.

We need to focus on youth entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial acumen needs to come at an early age. Picasso once said – Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up -.. Creativity, entrepreneurial, innovative drive dies when we grow older. It is important to keep creativity, inquisitive mindset, the DRIVE alive. Reforming education can be a polarizing topic, but introducing entrepreneurship in classrooms across America soon should be a no-brainer. Inclusion of entrepreneurial themed courses could expedite the much needed reform across the board.

On my blog and on my twitter page, I receive several emails and DMs everyday from Kids, teens and college students who are passionate about entrepreneurship. Its inspiring to see kids working with their parents and starting websites to offer advice on managing money. High school kids are developing successful business models out of social media sites like MySpace and Facebook – the concept that boardrooms across America are scrambling to understand. College film students are bootstrapping and developing studio quality movies.

I will be featuring some of the mind blowing entrepreneurial ventures sent to our blog. Stay tuned!

Like always, as so many of you have already done, feel free to email ideas, comments, feedback on our effort. [email protected], 877 466 2360

Here is a small list of websites relevant to youth entrepreneurship –

a. The Funded Founder Institute b. SBA Youth Entrepreneurship Center
d. National Academy Foundation
f. Ashoka’s Youth Venture
g. YSN Network

Photo (left to right): NFTE (Network for teaching entrepreneurship) Third-prize winner Scott Paiva, Second-prise winner Zoe Damacela, President Barack Obama, and first prize winner Kalief Rollins.

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25 Responses to “Teaching entrepreneurship to Youth”

  1. Nick Tart says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Kids are taught to go to school, get an education and find a job. Very few of them realize they have other options. Giving kids and teens the entrepreneurial mindset would do wonders for the American economy. Why not teach America’s youth to create jobs instead of fill them?

    Furthermore, young people aren’t tainted by the outdated business models of the corporate world. They have potential to be extraordinarily more creative than “senior” executives who take the “if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it” approach to business. If only they knew what they could do…

  2. Jay says:

    Nick – I like your website and the project that you are undertaking. keep me posted – maybe we can collaborate on some projects – we are launching an experimental youth creative entrepreneurship initiative in Los Angeles.

  3. Nick Tart says:

    Hi Jay,

    Thanks for checking out my site. Again, I really enjoyed reading your article. If you want to automatically keep posted you can subscribe to my site by email in the orange box on my homepage. Every week I post ‘JuniorBiz Journey’ Entries with interesting happenings and weekly accomplishments as I build my business from the ground up.

    I would love to collaborate on something! I’m working with Junior Achievement this summer and will also be judging for a Southeast Asia Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Let me know if I can help.


  4. Jay says:

    keep up the good work! will look for your feeds. I am creating a forum and video sharing site dedicated to youth entrepreneurship. I can use help to get the word out and may be to moderate the forum and you could be a role model for them..I like the way you are thinking about entrepreneurship while you’re still in college…..also check out our post on inner city youth: operation street kidz.

  5. Nick Tart says:

    Thanks, Jay. Let me know when you get the site up and I’ll see what I can do. I actually already took a look at operation street kidz. It seems like a great program.

    Feel free to email me at wntart(at)juniorbiz.com.

  6. Shonika Proctor, TeenBizCoach says:

    The idea sounds great in theory, but the problem is that you will need entrepreneurial teachers and you need to have adults (i.e. parents) who know their boundaries in the entrepreneurial space. As you know, entrepreneurship is a very ‘personal’ thing. I think that is the challenge for most organizations that work with youth esp. teens. When the adult is not involved, youth tend to come up with simplistic ideas or get frustrated because their genius idea seems a little ‘too genius’ for them. Or when adults are too involved, sometimes the teens idea morphs into that of the adults.

    NFTE is a great program and they offer entrepreneurship classes in schools. But their target population is schools that have 40% or higher, free and reduced lunch. Alternatively, Junior Achievement is in a lot of other schools but they focus on primarily leadership and personal development skills. Entrepreneurship comes secondary.

    I have volunteered with both organizations and am familiar with their curriculum. Today’s teens are a different ‘breed’ and audience than what either of their programs are offering. Teens kind of need both. While teens might rebel and say that they don’t want to work a job or go the traditional route of college and a job, I have found that when it comes time to graduate from high school, they begin to have second thoughts about pursuing entrepreneurship full-time. It still has not evolved mainstream in terms of individuals who really made it. They are still relatively far and few between.

    Needless to say, thanks for sharing your insights. We are moving in that direction now…slowly but surely. Good luck with your initiative.



  7. Jay Maharjan says:

    Thanks for the comment! Devil sure is in the details and in finding the right model. I can understand your rationale. I was a Junior Achievement counselor a while back myself. NFTE sounds like more of an entrepreneurially driven youth organization.

    My goal behind this article, blog is to start a dialogue. As long as we are talking, we are proposing ideas. I do not believe that we will get it right the first time around. But, I strongly see the need to at least get the ball rolling in the right direction.

    The latest on our initiative – we are beta testing with an online education platform/company to start offering trainings and classes for young entrepreneurs by successful entrepreneurs. It will be great to have you teach one of the classes.

  8. Seh says:

    Entrepreneurship is the way to go especially with video and internet. With these 2 tools creating a professional image is easier than ever. A great way to promote a business is with online video. A great place to post for free is http://www.Adwido.com plus they create increased traffic with targeted keywords.

  9. Deshola says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. Am in my second year at a college in Nigeria. Am about to enter into entrepreneurship speaking as a speaker. I’ld be more delighted if i get in contact with you,to get updated on entrepreneurship stuffs and more.

  10. Jay Maharjan says:


    Good luck with your entrepreneurial venture as a speaker. Keep me posted, feel free to email me at

  11. We Should be Waiting for Supercurriculum, instead of Superman | Our Space Fort Wayne says:

    [...] We need to focus on youth entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial acumen needs to come at an early age. Picasso once said – Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up -.. Creativity, entrepreneurial, innovative drive dies when we grow older. It is important to keep creativity, inquisitive mindset, the DRIVE alive. Reforming education can be a polarizing topic, but introducing entrepreneurship in classrooms across America soon should be a no-brainer. Inclusion of entrepreneurial themed courses could expedite the much needed reform across the board.  – http://4entrepreneur.net/?p=1468 [...]

  12. Jay Maharjan says:

    Reading ‘How to fix our schools: A manifesto by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and other education leaders’ this morning I felt that the authorities at some of the largest school districts are still missing the 100 pound gorilla lingering in this reform process – its not the teachers alone that is causing the school systems to lag behind. Coming from private sector and having led companies and having worked with Fortune 500 CEOs, it is true that measuring teachers’ performance effectively is a no-brainer and something should have started a long time back and needs to continue. On top of improving and measuring performance, there must be new curriculum. While strengthening the medium – i.e.teachers, lets not forget the tools, right curriculum that allows teachers to have clear direction and strong foundation to base on.

    Peter Drucker often said it is important to do the right thing before doing things right. While authorities are scrambling for band-aid approach to do things right, lets not forget the importance to think thoroughly and do the right thing to start with.

    As a part of solution, as I often write on this topic, fundamentally curriculum needs to change. Developing economies like India and China produces 60% of graduates with engineering and medical degrees while the United States has the graduating percent of only 6 percent for the same disciplines.

    We need to drastically add science, innovation, business and entrepreneurship related curriculum starting at the middle school. Innovation shouldn’t be limited at the lab rooms of colleges and universities. I agree with the Manifesto that getting ready for the 21st century requires reform – lets truly believe in the need for reform and make changes with curriculum at the fundamental level and conceptually bring about changes that will allow the United States to once again take the lead in pre-college level education

  13. [...] curriculum is where the United States can make significant difference. Entrepreneruship curriculum and courses on foreign markets and cultures allow Youth to possess a strong sense of business as [...]

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  15. [...] is my take on reforming education and introducing entrepreneurship in classroom in early age. [...]

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