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Program shows minority females how to become entrepreneurs

Updated: 12/09/2013 2:08 PM
Created: 12/03/2013 11:48 AM WNYT.com
By: Elaine Houston

When it comes to female entrepreneurs, minorities lag behind in starting and sustaining a business.

But a local woman is hoping to change that.

She's reaching out to girls in high school to get them started early on their careers.

“I did want to sell to from ages six to 18 for girls. But you know parents have money so parents will have to buy it,” says student Aujaneek Gibson.

Ninth grader, Aujaneek Gibson is describing who she plans to market her hair accessories to.

For Tasneem Serville, her most pressing issue is whether to have a brick and mortor store or a kiosk for her personalized jewelry.

“Once I build up my reputation I’ll open a story,” she says.

These young ladies, who are both high school students at Albany Leadership Charter High School for girls, are part of an after school entrepreneurial program called EDGE, which stands for Educating Dynamic Girl Entrepreneurs.

The goal is to get girls thinking about starting a business at an early age so they have a better chance at being successful entrepreneurs.

Dr. Andrea Smith Hunter, a professor of Sociology at Siena College, founded the program.

After years of research on female entrepreneurs, she found there are fewer women of color starting and succeeding in business.

“My research does look at women entrepreneurs across racial lines and I’ve always looked at that. And my research does show that women of color are less likely to be mentored at an early age for entrepreneuralship,” says Dr. Smith Hunter.

In fact, they're less likely to even consider going into business for themselves.

“Less likely to have the mind set or the experience of what it means to own a business,” says Dr. Smith Hunter.

So, since September, she's been working with 14 girls from the Leadership Academy, showing them how to create a business plan, market their idea, and also bringing in female African American business owners to mentor them.

Women like Roxanne Wright who owns a development firm.

She urges the girls to do their homework regarding their product, and then be confident in their abilities to make their business a success.

“First and foremost you have to know that you have everything that you need to get everything that you want. And you just have to move with that thought,” says Wright.

Myanna Gotha who wants to be a wedding and events planner and will be heading to Siena College to earn a degree in Business, gets the message loud and clear.

“I don't want to follow peoples rules. I just want to own my own stuff and I want to do my own thing,” says Gotha.

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