In the Appalachian region of Southwest Virginia, David Lawson of Wise County converted six acres of his family property to a vineyard after completing a REAL Enterprises high school entrepreneurship class several years ago. His family has owned the land since the 1850s; a decade ago, part of it was a strip mine. As an alumnus of entrepreneurship training, this 27-year-old continues to use the knowledge he gained from the high school course to benefit him in the business operation of his vineyard.
After a few years of selling his grapes by the ton to a local winery, David built a winery on the family property and now bottles his own label, MountainRose Vineyard. This young vintner has also become an advocate for surface mined land reclamation through the farming of grapes and other fruits. He also offers area farmers advice on how they can convert their tobacco farms to vineyards. www.mountainrosevineyard.com
When Laima Tazmin was seven, she discovered an HTML book and taught herself how to build Web sites. She turned this interest into a viable business when she took a National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) course at the Mott Hall School School in the sixth grade. With the encouragement of the instructor, Laima started LAVT, a Web-site development company, in New York City.
“Most Web site hosting and development companies cater to established businesses and often sacrifice good design and aesthetics for the latest special effects,” says Laima, now 16 years old. “In my Web designs, I try to give site visitors a sense of the beautiful by combining natural and energetic colors with textures that engage all the senses.” Laima hopes to expand her business to offer online games and software, including a role-playing game for teens in simulated, real-life scenarios. www.lavtweb.com
Stephan Hall and a friend launched their business, D&S Snack and Catering Services, in the sixth grade with a $150 third-place prize they won in a business-plan writing contest. The contest was part of an after-school entrepreneurship program called Entrenuity's Creating True Wealth. The Entrenuity program incorporates biblical and free-market principles within the context of entrepreneurship instruction in order to develop students’ business aptitude, individual character and spiritual knowledge. It also encourages godly stewardship in the areas of time, talent and resources.
The two young men started selling candy and chips in their own school, Roseland Christian School on Chicago’s South Side. With guidance from their parents, the young entrepreneurs began to direct their profits towards the purchase of a $1,000 vending machine. D&S averaged $250 in sales each week. Earnings were used to support the boys’ school activities and personal expenses and to invest in stocks and mutual funds. Stephan and his friend closed the business after a successful six-year run and are now off to college.
Twelve-year-old Marlon is participating in a Youth Entrepreneurship Conference, where kids from around the country, ages eight-18, have an opportunity to showcase their businesses and compete for awards. Marlon is the CEO of Marlon’s Creations. The young tycoon designs inspirational picture frames and artwork. This 7th grader didn’t know anything about business before becoming a student at the Children’s Entrepreneurial Opportunities (C.E.O.) Academy, a faith-based organization in Nashville, Tennessee. Marlon attended C.E.O. Academy’s six-week summer day camp, which teaches entrepreneurship skills to kids as young as six. From June through July, for five days a week, energetic “campers” arrive at David Lipscomb University to learn how to research and write business plans, develop marketing strategies and fine-tune their sales pitches.
At the camp’s end, students are ready to spread their entrepreneurial wings at the Hickory Hollow Mall, where they each have a booth to promote and sell their products.
Eric and Derrick Davis, 16-year-old twins, first met their mentor, ReDonna Rodgers, through the Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship's (CTE) partnership with a 4H gardening project. Once the project ended, the boys began helping out at the CTE office and in the process, learned office skills and how to manage a business. When the boys later became interested in getting a job to do lawn care, Ms. Rodgers trained them to start their own business.
At age eleven, they created E & D Landscaping. Along with some spending money, their profits go into the usual maintenance and repair expenses, as well as purchasing additional mowers. In fact, last summer the twins bought a used tractor mower, which enabled them to take on clients with larger property as well as offering snow removal in the winter. They have also donated some of their profits to a local charity, “Milwaukee HeartLove Place.”
One organization born in the aftermath of the 1992 riots in South Los Angeles was Food From the ‘Hood (FFTH). Wanting to help rebuild their community, students from Crenshaw High School started by transforming an abandoned lot behind the football field into a two-acre fruit and vegetable garden.
They donate 25 percent of what they grow to people who really need it; the rest they sell for profit. As the organization grew, the students developed three varieties of bottled salad dressings, which are sold in 2,000 stores nationwide and on Amazon.com — Creamy Italian, No Fat Honey Mustard and All-Natural Ranch. Fifty percent of the profits go back into the organization to keep it running and fifty percent is awarded through scholarships to student managers upon high school graduation. To date, more than $250,000 in scholarships has been generated. www.foodfromthehood.com