Fostering Student Entrepreneurship
Photo: The 2012 GSEA Global Champion, Chelsea Sloan, with Peter Thomas and EO Global Chairman Samer Kurdi.
Today’s students serve as the foundation of our economic future, but they face tough challenges. Rising college tuition and poor job prospects are making it difficult for students to achieve self-sufficiency and economic stability. According to a 2011 Current Population Survey conducted by Northeastern University, 1.5 million college graduates in the U.S. under the age of 25—or 53.6 percent nationwide—are jobless or underemployed in lower-wage jobs, the highest rate observed in the past 11 years. It’s clear we need to do a better job of providing our students with the tools, guidance and encouragement they need to chart a successful course for the future.
But where do we start? In my experience, one of the best ways we can help today’s youth thrive in a new job market is by continually mentoring them regarding entrepreneurship. I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 15 years, and I currently serve as global chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), a world-wide community of nearly 9,000 leading entrepreneurs that is shaping the global business landscape as we know it. For 25 years, we’ve been helping business owners learn and grow on a personal and professional level, giving them the tools and resources they need to achieve entrepreneurial excellence. That support extends to those students who’ve expressed interest in pursuing their own entrepreneurial journey.
Similar to the Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative (CEO), EO believes the advice and guidance an experienced entrepreneur can bring through mentorship is invaluable to emerging entrepreneurs. At EO, we understand the far-reaching power mentorship wields, which is why we’re supporting today’s student entrepreneurs through the EO Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) program.
EO GSEA is a premier award program for students who own and run businesses while attending a high school, college or university. For 14 years, the program has played an integral role in the development of student entrepreneurs worldwide, granting them access to one-of-a-kind benefits and opportunities to take their business to the next level.. Through this program, we aim to support students pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors by providing hands on guidance and mentorship to all participants, while bringing global visibility to student business owners.
At the 2012 EO GSEA Global Finals, 30 student entrepreneurs from 20 countries vied for the title of Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year (more than 1,000 student entrepreneurs from 32 counties applied). The prestigious honor went to Chelsea Sloan, a 2012 graduate of the University of Utah and the owner of Uptown Cheapskate, a teen/young adult fashion exchange franchise. We were pleased that members of the Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative had the opportunity to experience this great event.
It’s amazing how much mentorship can change someone’s life. To ensure that today’s students are given the future they deserve, we must continue to promote entrepreneurship as a catalyst for individual and economic growth. The stronger our youth become in business and beyond, the bigger impact they’ll make in their communities and the world.