Area youth gather in a team to discuss their pitch before the competition.

Students from ABC Adolescent Center, Bridge 2 Success and Life Skills for Youth participated in a fun and educational day at Philander Smith College on Thursday, July 12, learning what it means to be an entrepreneur and how to turn their big ideas into a business.

Sponsored by Junior Achievement of Arkansas, as well as Philander Smith College, the all-day event brought together youth from three different City of Little Rock CityWide Summer Program Sites to attend the “It’s My Business!” entrepreneurial program. 

JA’s “It’s My Business!” is a blended online curricula model that introduces students to the process of design thinking and provides an authentic entrepreneurial experience.

The students were broken up into different teams, where they brainstormed their own products, services, or inventions. They then participated in a friendly competition where they pitched their big ideas to a panel of judges to see which idea was the most inventive of the group.

“I learned how to invest my money and what it takes to earn money in today’s world,” said one student who was participating in the day’s events. “This is the first time I’ve ever heard about these things and it’s really helping me to understand the business world better.”

Jasmine Washington, a junior at Philander Smith College, was one of the student volunteers helping out with the workshop. 

“These students are not only learning about being an entrepreneur, they are also learning valuable skills like branding themselves and networking,” Washington said. “They are coming up with their own ideas and pitching those ideas like you would as a real business owner.”

According to the press release, “This ‘JA in a Day’ gives local business partners an opportunity to give back to the community while investing in possible future entrepreneurs.”

According to statistics gathered by Junior Achievement, 87% of high school students want to start a business someday, but the number of businesses owned by those under the age of 30 is currently at a 25-year low. JA is working to raise that number of young entrepreneurs by getting students interested in the process of entrepreneurship while teaching them valuable lessons for future success.

Junior Achievement of Arkansas is part of the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people — from Kindergarten through 12th grade — the knowledge and skills they need to make it in the business world and achieve their own economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices.

For more information about Junior Achievement’s work with young adults in the state, visit www.jaark.org