Middle and upper class women’s struggle to break into the business world has been making headlines lately, but what about the even greater challenges faced by low-income and minority women? Organizations in Philadelphia are teaching young women how to enter the business world and run a successful company.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, in collaboration with the Greater Philadelphia Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs, provides middle-school and high-school students with education in business principles and assists them in setting up their own companies.
The program lasts a year and is held as an after-school option or is integrated into the curriculum. During the year, participants build a business from the ground up. Students write up business plans, pitch to investors, and set up their business with support from professionals associated with the organization. The students remain in control of the businesses once the program is complete, and can continue to manage them if they wish to do so.
Once a business is set up, other resources become available to help it grow. The Women’s Business Development Center provides resources to women seeking to expand their existing businesses, or start new ones. The organization, whose mission is to “foster economic development, advance small business initiatives and create and retain jobs in low-income areas,” holds courses which train participants to maintain a business and to manage company finances.
The program is intended to help young business-women of any economic status, and initial consultation is offered for free, while grants and financial aid are given to those who are not able to pay for the courses.
ATHENApowerlink, also affiliated with the Greater Philadelphia Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs, provide their resources at no cost. The organization focuses on mentoring young women as their companies grow. The business-owners are linked to a board of volunteers, comprised of experts seeking to empower women in the business world. This board remains with the owner for a year and assists them with all aspects of running and maintain their business.