This summer, we once again partnered with the West Mesa Community Development Corporation to help low income people in downtown Mesa put themselves in business. As usual, we had wonderful cooperation from the participants, who ranged in interests from neighborhood advocacy to online marketing to wildlife management.
The challenge as these budding entrepreneurs come to the Meetup Group we run, which is called the Mesa Entrepreneurship Roundtable, is to help them create actual businesses from their ideas — businesses that will support them and sustain the community. We teach a set of skills that allow the participants to operate in the for profit or not for profit community: legal entities, financial reporting, marketing, customer acquisition, and leadership. Mostly we teach people how to think about survival without asking someone for a job.
The more we do this, the more we realize the skills we teach should be taught to everyone, and we’re looking to raise some money to extend our programs backwards into schools, especially schools in low income neighborhoods, so the kids who graduate understand what the workplace is like, and how difficult it really is for an employer to run a company. It will change their view of working for someone, as well as make them ready to work for themselves.