YEA! Ignites Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Friday, September 14th, 2018

The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce is pleased to offer the Young Entrepreneurs Academy for its second year to transform middle and high school students into business owners as part of a weekly entrepreneurship education class beginning this fall.

YEA! is a cutting-edge program that takes students ages 11 to 18 through the process of starting and launching a real business or social movement over the course of an academic year. By the end of the class, students own and operate fully-formed and functioning businesses, which may be carried on after their graduation from the program. YEA! was developed in 2004 at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, with support from the Kauffman Foundation.

YEA! Valdosta’s leading Superstar Sponsor is Southwest Georgia Bank.

“The Young Entrepreneurs Academy helps the Chamber fulfill its goal of supporting small business development in our community by training our future leaders and helping them to establish strong, lasting relationships with their hometown business community,” says Betty Morgan, Chamber Vice President. “We are thrilled to have graduated 13 students since we’ve launched the program. We’re also thrilled to have engaged numerous local business leaders who have served as mentors, instructors, and guides as a means of giving back to our community.”  

Student applications are available online at; the submission deadline is September 22.

“One of the interesting components of YEA! is the ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge that local business leaders share with students. Community support strengthens the program, and the Academy strengthens the community,” says Amanda Johnson, YEA! Valdosta Program Manager. “The students gain skills that they can apply to any field they choose to enter, and will have the foundation to become future leaders of their industries.”

Classes will be conducted on the campus of Valdosta State University at the Health Sciences & Business Administration building from October 2018 to April 2019. Partial scholarships are available for all participants.

During the 20-week commitment, students brainstorm and form their business ideas, make pitches to investors for startup funding, file their DBAs, and launch their own businesses or social movements. Mentors and local entrepreneurs across a variety of industries, such as graphic design, web development, law, accounting, retail, manufacturing and technology are invited to support the students throughout the hands-on curriculum as mentors, field trip hosts or guest lecturers.