Nurturing The Entrepreneurial Spirit

nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit

Money doesn’t grow on trees.
Parenting adage

Financial security is one of the long-term goals parents wish for their children. Being financially secure has connotations of knowing how to make money, how to save money, and how to use money to help others. Financially secure suggests that we have a realistic expectation about the amount of work it takes to make a living while being aware of the traps and pitfalls that might become financial hardships.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, pronounced “nifty”) is geared for student ages 11 to 18 years. An international program, NFTE has had a dramatic effect on helping junior high and high school students learn what it means to start and run a small business, and thus allowing these young people to take control of their lives.

Started in 1987 by Steve Marotti, NFTE has helped over 80,000 students learn about becoming financially savvy by starting and working in their own small business.

How does it work?

In some programs, each student may apply for a loan of $25 to $100 to establish his or her business after a business plan has been formulated and approved. As the students provide services, create products or resale merchandise, they learn basic accounting. Every month each student is required to create an Income and Expense Statement along with a Balance Sheet. Students are also required to give 10% of earnings to a charity, and to pay and budget for taxes.

As students become conversant about the financial aspects of running their business and thus their lives, these young entrepreneurs become ready to create or join a school-based business.

A Harvard Graduate School of Education longitudinal study of NFTE students in six Boston high schools shows that NFTE participants are increasing their leadership and self-starter skills. NFTE participants are more likely to increase their career aspirations over the course of the school year in comparison to the study’s control group.

At Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U) a NFTE affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio, students create individual small businesses—from the more traditional services such as babysitting and lawn care, to florists, selling camo-gear, to selling cold bottled water at the Zoo.

These personal experiences offer the up and down realities of running a business.

What? Nobody bought your water today? Customers didn’t pay? Somebody stole your merchandise?

These individual  ventures are joined together in a group effort of a community garden based business. Y.O.U.entrepreneurs sell fresh vegetables from the garden and bottle salsa and spaghetti sauce made from their homegrown produce.

Through entrepreneurship, students discover that what they are learning at school has real-world relevancy. NFTE students find out that money doesn’t grow on trees, but on tomato and pepper plants, and through the busy-ness of their own minds and efforts. With their NFTE experience, students understand that a method of creating wealth and a wonderful life can grow with entrepreneurial spirit and skills.

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