Entrepreneurship skills are not, as Silicon Valley would have you believe, always glamorous. In fact they are almost the opposite. They are survival skills. And they are becoming more necessary every year as we face a future in which many jobs from radiologist and dermatologist to truck driver and accountant may vanish because of automation or artificial intelligence or both.
That’s why we at OTEF remain deeply committed to providing entrepreneurship training to our community. This year, we served one young man, a divorced father of two, who is in the middle of a plumbing apprenticeship program. His wages are not enough to provide for himself and his share of the children’s expenses. We helped him establish a “side hustle” of buying and trading or bartering merchandise on sites like Facebook Marketplace and Offer Up to give him the extra cash he needs.
In another case, we helped SySTEM Schools survive the transition from a founder-led institution to a professional Head of School. We had had a relationship with the founder, providing her with community resources, marketing help, and leadership training. A change in her family situation forced her to leave her “baby” the school to be closer to ailing parents, and we helped her identify and train a successor. We also helped her enlarge the board for the new Head of School, which will bring the school new resources.
Academically, SySTEM Schools hopes to provide STEM middle school education to inner city youth, mostly minorities. Realistically, the school provides remediation, family services, free breakfast and lunch in addition, which was a major challenge for the founder and will continue to be for her successor.
We have also completed the second year of our very successful Women Entrepreneur’s Happy Hour, a monthly get together for female founders to help them get the resources they need to succeed. We have about 40 participants at each happy hour, and an active Facebook group with almost 500 members.
Our third program, the Phoenix Entrepreneurship Roundtable, met for 18 months before a lack of participation forced us to stop meeting. Lunch is no longer a time when people can leave their jobs (if they have them).
This has been our best year so far in terms of the number of entrepreneurs reached and helped. A huge vote of thanks to Phillip Blackerby and our donors who make this possible.