Local teens try on their entrepreneurial wings

Published 10:36 am Monday, August 7, 2017

AHOSKIE – June marks the time that students are finishing up with school and looking to get some much needed fun and relaxation, but for seven local teenagers from Hertford and Bertie counties it was a time to learn important new skills to navigate their economic futures.

During the week of June 19 the Small Business Center at Roanoke-Chowan Community College and NC REAL (Real Entrepreneurship through Action) hosted a four-day Youth Entrepreneurship camp.

Campers glimpsed into the world of entrepreneurship with hands-on collaborative learning and competition. They developed business plans, advertising campaigns, and financial estimates for their own dream businesses.

Andrew Canada, a rising senior from Bertie County said, “This camp was a great and eye opening experience and gave me insight into the basics of the business world.”

R-CCC’s Business Administration Program Coordinator, Latoya Stephenson; Director of the Small Business Center, W. Dan Joyner; Senior Director of Work Force Development and Student Success, Wendy Vann; and Director of Occupational Extension/Customized Training, Charles “Iyon” Mitchell facilitated the experience.

The camp was also coordinated with the assistance of Jaime Heckstall, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, and Shelly Saxby, Director of Enrollment Management and Student Life.

The camp culminated with a final presentation that could result in potential future implications for the local community.

“I really want students to understand that entrepreneurship can be a viable source of income and it doesn’t have to begin in adulthood. The skills they acquired from this camp can be used to start a business venture now,” said Stephenson.

“Entrepreneurship could even serve as a part time job when they go to college or move forward in other directions in life,” she added. “It would be amazing if their entrepreneurial ideas would result in full time careers. I am a huge advocate of entrepreneurship and I hope that the seeds planted in the camp participants will continue to grow helping each of the students move on to do great things in their communities.”

The teens benefited from the expertise of local entrepreneurs, as well as local business professionals. Diane Taylor of Taylor Made Publishing, Inc. shared with the teens her process for starting a business. Amy Braswell, Director of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the students about the Chamber’s role in the community as well as the benefits that the Chamber provides to local entrepreneurs. Brunet Parker, Public Information Officer for Hertford County Public School System, provided a presentation on soft skills to teach students about appropriate work place behavior, attire, and much more. Deborah Fields, Branch Manager of PNC Bank in Ahoskie, spoke to students about the loan process for entrepreneurs. R-CCC’s own Bonnie Burkett, Librarian, taught students how to pull up relevant research that will help them with their marketing research and other aspects of their business plan.

Parents, siblings, and relatives attended Thursday afternoon to see the final business presentations and awards ceremony. The presentations were judged by Pastor C. David Stackhouse, pastor of New Ahoskie Baptist Church who also serves as a member of the R-CCC Board of Trustees and Ahoskie Town Councilman, Braswell and Wendy.

The award for “Best Enterprise” went to Lauryn Tann and Karissa Gatling. The group created an Amusement Park called Bear Cave Amusements.

Tann stated, “This is my second time coming to the entrepreneurship camp and it has been a great experience and a lot of fun. I would like to encourage more teens to register and attend the camp in the future.”

  1. Dan Joyner, the Director of the Small Business Center commented, “The campers gained a much better understanding of basic entrepreneurial skills, self-discipline and communication skills required to start a new business venture.”

Camp officials expressed gratitude to R-CCC President Dr. Jimmy Tate as well as the faculty and staff at R-CCC for their continuing support of this project. They also were appreciative of the support from both Hertford County and Bertie County Schools and the donors and other community members who assisted in making this camp possible.