Business Mentors Help YEA!

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Local business mentors have stepped up to support the spirit of entrepreneurship. Ten volunteers from the Valdosta-Lowndes business community have agreed to help the inaugural YEA! students in their business planning process. The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is an innovative program provided by the Valdosta Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, and Superstar Sponsor, Georgia Power, that guides students through the process of starting their own, real business.

“Once the students identify their business idea, YEA! pairs each student business with an appropriate mentor. The industry experts help the students to fine-tune their concept, complete their draft business plan and identify their target audience,” explained Amanda Johnson, YEA! Lead Instructor. Business mentors for the program’s inaugural year include:

  • Beverley Richardson-Blake, VSU Senior Academic Advisor

  • Ben Blanton, Blanton & Griffin Insurance Agency

  • Glenn Boswell, Motion Wave Productions

  • Arthur Morin, BrandSouth

  • Elizabeth Omiteru-Salami, Cre8ive Zone

  • Sally Sutton, Anchored Media Marketing

  • TJ Taylor, Motion Wave Productions

  • Deidre Thompson, Perfectly Priscilla Boutique

  • Angela Ward, FOX49’s Smart Business Talk

  • Kendrick Warren-Williams, Fraternity Row Sportswear & Design

Glenn Boswell, co-owner of Motion Wave Productions, commented after the first mentoring session, “We believe in providing the means to encourage these young students to embrace their creativity and passions. We hope that empowering them at such a young age will inspire them to do even greater things in the future.”

As a non-profit organization, YEA! relies on the generosity of the community and of sponsors; people who identify with entrepreneurship and want to help pave the way for future entrepreneurs. Some help the student businesses get off the ground while others provide in-kind support or volunteer their time and services.

“More than 30 local businesses have become involved so far with YEA! at various levels, with more opportunities to come over the next 18 weeks remaining in the program,” added Johnson.  From helping teach the basics of business to inviting students to tour their companies, volunteers participate in a variety of capacities. Students work in close cooperation with local business leaders, community leaders and educators who use their personal experiences to demonstrate how to develop ideas and objectives, pitch potential investors, obtain funding, register with governmental agencies, establish e-commerce and a web presence, and more. By the end of the class, students own and operate fully-formed and functioning businesses, which they can carry on after their graduation from the program.

“Our community is lucky to have a youth business education program like YEA!. All of our mentors were very enthusiastic to be able to support the efforts of such a groundbreaking program,” said Betty Morgan, Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce VP for Business Development.

The next highlight event for the program is the CEO Roundtable, which will be free and open to the public to attend. YEA! students will have the opportunity to ask questions to invited business leaders and participate directly in a discussion regarding small business success. The event will be held on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 5:30 pm inside VSU’s College of Business Administration building.