International Business Kids: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

by Marcella Gadson on November 1, 2010

This Friday, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition held its annual Media and Telecommunications Symposium in Washington, DC. The first half of the Symposium included a separate session for kids and young adults that focused on teaching children about entrepreneurship. The session was hosted by International Business Kids (IBK) Foundation Executive Director, Endura Govan.

The International Business Kids Foundation was started by Govan’s son, Alexander, who had a dream at the tender age of four about starting a business. Three years later, he started his first nonprofit, “B.A.D. (Bold, Ambitious, and Determined) Kids,” to teach children how to start and run their own businesses.

A thoughtful and insightful child, Alex wanted the “B.A.D.” acronym to change the negative connotation associated with a word these at-risk youth heard often to describe themselves. Before he died of cancer at the age of ten, Alexander realized his dream of starting the foundation and creating a legacy of efforts to teach at-risk youth how to create and run businesses that benefit their communities.

Endura Govan took up the helm of her son’s inspirational organization. During its twenty year tenure, the program has helped thousands of young children become entrepreneurs and empowered children that were not given many chances to have an opportunity to succeed..

“Several thousand youth have taken our training courses since 1996. We serve over 2,500 youth a year through our various training components,” Govan says, adding, “We are currently in 50 cities. Thanks to technology we will expand rapidly via web based training classes from now through December 2010 to offer training in 200 cities.”

The foundation’s goal for 2010 is to reach 10,000 new children and help them start 1,000 new business ventures. From the looks of the young, excited entrepreneurs at the Rainbow PUSH Symposium, the foundation is well on its way to achieving its goal.

One of the young entrepreneurs, Odency Johnson, sold ties to Symposium attendees. Currently 20 years old, Johnson started his “Ties to a Cause” organization at the age of ten and uses income from Ties to a Cause and a part-time job to cover his tuition at Bowie State and help his father care for his siblings.

Another young entrepreneur, DeAnna “Cookie” Mayo, advertised her company, “My Sweet Tooth.” DeAnna’s website offers consumers a choice of healthy cookies that come in sugar-free, gluten free, nut free, and dairy free varieties. DeAnna developed the site to help others, like her, who have dietary restrictions or suffer from diabetes or obesity, to enjoy healthy and tasty alternatives. With help from IBK, DeAnna has succeeded.

“The most inspiring aspect of our program is that any youth regardless of background, parents’ income status or lack thereof, can learn how to discover their passion,” says Govan. “They can tap into their purpose and learn how to develop positive money management principles at early ages.”

The IBK entrepreneurship session at Rainbow PUSH’s Symposium was a success with the group of high school students who attended the program.

Rapper Lil Zane connected with the children through Skype to stress the importance of leadership, building confidence and self-esteem, and expressing his own desire to work with schools. Lil Zane expressed his pride in the students for attending this life-changing event and promised to visit their schools to perform a holiday concert and speak more on the importance of leadership.

According to Govan, there’s a lot adults can do to help students in the International Business Kids Foundation:

  • Be a customer – Purchase items from IBK students to provide them with income;
  • Be a source of referral – Refer both customers and places for business kids to sell products to the public by office showcase, group sales, and one-on-one;
  • Adopt A Business Kid – Provide funding for students to enroll in IBK training courses;
  • Be a donor – Underwrite IBK summer camps and weekend conferences; and
  • Be a mentor – Share life lessons that can help IBK students develop personal skills.

The International Business Kids Foundation – from its roots, to its reach, to its goals for the future – is more than an inspiration. It has turned at-risk youths into responsible entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs have then gone on to college, helped support their families, and brought their knowledge and skills back into their communities.

As Govan put it, “IBK students have used their businesses to create a positive life.”

  • Marcella Gadson is the Editor in Chief of the Broadband and Social Justice Blog and Director of Communications at the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC).

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  • Rochelle

    WHY HAVEN’T I HEARD OF THIS! I’m always searching out programs to get my daughter on the right path for the future. She’s only 10, but it’s never too early to start, which Endura Govan obviously figured out 20 years ago. So sorry to hear about her son, God puts people on this planet for a reason, and I’m so happy he got to see his dream fulfilled! I’m definitely going to try to get my daughter into this program, thank you!

  • James

    Sounds like an excellent program, very inspiring to hear all these stories, especially about the young boy who dreamed of the concept. We need more programs like this for our young men and women, so they know they can be and do whatever they want in life!

  • Gusti

    Wow! We need more programs like this! So happy to hear about this, its huge success, and the high goals and hopes Endura has for it! This program should definitely get more attention and press than it already has. I’m definitely going to support these kids in any way I can, and I’m telling my friends about it, too!

  • DianneG

    Sounds like a wonderful event and a great organization!

  • John Wau

    Wow what an organization! This is so heartwarming and a great thing for the kids. I wish them all the luck.

  • Thomas

    This is great! The more we can do to help our younger generations succeed in this challenging economy, the better off we will all be! I am definitely going to look in to the “Adopt a Business Kid”. We need more programs like this for young entrepreneurs to help them overcome some of the largest obstacles in starting a business, education and start-up capital! Great article!

  • Bill Edmonds

    Excellent! This is how to build a better future.

  • JCraigdc

    Developing positive money managing principles at a young age is so important. Its critical that the next generation understand how to manage finances in hopes that they do not end up with the credit crisis many Americans suffer from now.

  • Lucylu

    I attended the International kid’s session and their guest speaker Thomas Penny- General manager of court yard of Marriot, spoke about his experiences in working for the hotel industry and now owning his personal hotel. Key points of his speech highlighted that every other culture owns their own business in our communities absent African Americans. He also stated that our lives are shaped by the events from which we experience.

    It was disheartening to see that there are 50k hotels in the country and African Americans own less than 1%, and Asians own over 50% of hotels in this country.

    He decided either you can complain about this or get in the business. Mr. Penny in two weeks will own his first hotel and inspired the kids to dream big and go after their dreams no matter the cost.

    Lucy lu

  • Vickie

    Sounds like a great program — wish I could have been there! Definitely going to look into contacting IBK about maybe coming to my daughter’s school.

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