What if you could do anything? What if you could create your own reality? Or even if you could create income in whatever way you wanted? That, my friend, is entrepreneurship. The art of entrepreneurship is a complex collection of skills that allows one to discover their passion and pursue passion-driven solutions as far as their mind could take them. However, even though 62% of US billionaires are self-made, America's public-school systems do not encourage or provide teachers with the resources to teach skills needed to be self-made, financially literate, or wealthy (Simovic, 2020).
Not only does this put our students further back in terms of future-ready skills, but it also furthers the racial wealth gap, as African Americans are less than 1% of the 1% that own most of the world's wealth. Things don't have to be this way. Schools across the country should provide students with future-ready entrepreneurial skills. If not schools, community organizations, and for-profits must, but we must also have investors ready to sow into those organizations doing the groundwork. When the next generation is empowered with these skills, they are now empowered to live a choice filled life. Why does the choice of being financially literate matter? Well let's dive in.
Schools providing curriculum on financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills is not new. In 2018, Senator Barbara Robinson [D] & Senator William C Smith Jr.[D] of Maryland proposed "State Board of Education – Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship Curriculum – Development and Implementation", recommending financial literacy and entrepreneurship programming provided through a semester-based elective course. Although this bill fell on deaf ears, the validity in their claims should not.
When focusing on schools that serve low income and/or minority populations, entrepreneurship is a way out of the dark side of capitalism. In particular, Forbes credits black women for being the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs (Umoh, 2020). This is especially crucial to understand when considering 2019 college matriculation rates were the lowest among black women.
Even from a public health perspective, when systems, like the education system, fail, entrepreneurship provides an avenue for community members to fill the gaps and solve problems and disparities experienced. Empowering financial literacy & entrepreneurial skills in the next generation creates a positive feedback loop of opportunities being provided, such as upward mobility for minorities (Sørensen & Sharkey, 2014).
Businesses like Raise the Bar Investments (RTB) show this point. Ray'Chel Wilson, Founder, not only is a black women entrepreneur, but RTB also aims to launch a scholarship & mentorship program for aspiring and budding entrepreneurs graduating from high school. Programs like this aim to level the playing field, providing the next generation, especially those whose identities have been historically marginalized, allowing a choice filled life.
The more support the education system provides, coupled with the monetary support of businesses serving needs like this, the more uncertainties that may come with business can be negated. Proper coaching, access to various types of capital, and financial literacy at pre-launch & the early stages of a new business owner would be address by these initiatives.
Success stories, recommendations, and research point towards financial literacy and entrepreneur skills as the future of not only our children but our country. This is not something to wait on. This is something to act on. When collaboration regarding financial literacy and entrepreneurship for young people is prioritized, there will be sizable leaps in closing the racial wealth gap & growth of the American people.
S.B. 236, 2018 Gen. Assembly, 2018 Hearing (Md. 2018). http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/SB0236?ys=2018rs
Simovic, D. (2020, December 02). 39 Entrepreneur Statistics You Need To Know In 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2020, from https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/entrepreneur-statistics/
Sørensen, J. B., & Sharkey, A. J. (2014). Entrepreneurship as a Mobility Process. American Sociological Review, 79(2), 328-349. doi:10.1177/0003122414521810
Umoh, R. (2020, October 26). Black Women Were Among The Fastest-Growing Entrepreneurs—Then Covid Arrived. Forbes. Retrieved December 5, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ruthumoh/2020/10/26/black-women-were-among-the-fastest-growing-entrepreneurs-then-covid-arrived/?sh=6d5145366e01