Funding Young Entrepreneurs

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The ideal candidate for seed-funding is someone who identifies a project in their community then comes up with a solution, Watson says. In addition to the $1,000, winning applicants also get linked with mentors and working professionals to help them raise more money and turn their dreams into viable enduring programs, Watson says. The young entrepreneurs are also provided with assistance for publicity and media coverage to highlight their efforts.

Young entrepreneurs with a good business idea that can help their communities can get up to $1,000 in seed-funding from Youth Venture, a unit of a global social-investment company.

Youth Venture, a not-for-profit operation, offers up to $1,000 and advice on how to raise more money to budding entrepreneurs determined to improve their neighborhoods. There is no restriction in the type of projects promoted provided the young person’s community benefits from it. Applicants must be between the ages of 12 to 20.

“It could be a woman who wants to start a newsletter or magazine that builds women’s self-esteem esteem,� explains Erica Watson, program associate in the group’s New York office. “It could be a person that wants to beautify their community with a community garden. We have had some people who have started T-shirts design companies. It could be somebody with web design expertise that wants to design a web site for small businesses or women-owned businesses. It must be something gives back to the community.�

The ideal candidate for seed-funding is someone who identifies a project in their community then comes up with a solution, Watson says. In addition to the $1,000, winning applicants also get linked with mentors and working professionals to help them raise more money and turn their dreams into viable enduring programs, Watson says. The young entrepreneurs are also provided with assistance for publicity and media coverage to highlight their efforts.

Application forms can be downloaded from the group’s website at www.youthventure.org or by contacting Watson at (212) 278-8930. Once applications are submitted and reviewed select applicants are invited to make a brief presentation to a board comprising community leaders before approval and funding. The Director of the Northeast Region is Naomi Feiner.

Youth Venture is also looking for mentors to work with small teams of young people who want to create and lead socially minded organizations and businesses. Volunteers meet with youth for two hours every other week for a 15-week period starting in October. “Everyone is encouraged to apply but people with some background in Business or Policy will make excellent volunteers,� Watson says.

Youth Venture is a unit of Ashoka Innovators For The Public, a global organization that invests in people that want to change their communities. Youth Venture has operated nationally since the late 1990s and for the last five years in New York, Watson says. About 50 projects have been funded in New York.

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