Get your biz on

Cynthia E. Griffin- | 5/20/2009, 5 p.m.

Los Angeles, CA -- When he was 15 years old (in 2002), Lawrence Ball spent seven weeks attending an Academy of Business Leadership entrepreneurial training program held at USC. A few weeks ago that training paid off for the Los Angeles native, now a junior at Howard University, and helped him win $30,000 in a business plan competition in Atlanta. He attributes part of his success to that high school business training.

Ball, a graduate of the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, is a prime example of what can happen to students who decide that learning how to start and operate a business can be a lucrative alternative to finding a summer job.

This summer there are a number of opportunities locally for youth--those who cannot find a job, are too young to work or just like the freedom of being their own boss--to formally learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship. They include the Urban League Biz Institute, the Academy of Business Leadership and Camp Start-Up offered by Independent Means Inc.

The Urban League will hold its Biz Institute July 6-24 for youth 14 to 18 years old. The program, which is based on the curriculum by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (formerly the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship), will be held weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Urban League office located at 5414 S. Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles.

It will give young people information on how to start and grow a business. Subjects taught include marketing, financial strategies, bookkeeping, selling and negotiation, and determining your target market. Students will also get a chance to participate in a wholesale shopping day competition with actual money and merchandise.

By the end of the course, those who do not have an idea going in, will have a concept and completed business plan. The deadline to register for this free program is June 12, and students must complete an application and interview process to snag one of the 20 spots available.

Interested individuals do not need business experience, but should have leadership potential and be excited about the idea of starting a business. To get more information, go to the Urban League website and submit an application www.laul.org or call (323) 292-8111.

The Academy of Business Leadership holds a seven-week Summer Business Institute June 29 to Aug. 14 at six local universities and a four-week program June 29-July 24 at UCLA that target students in grades 5 to 12. There is also a four-week Jr. Summer Business Institute for 5th to 8th-graders at Cal State Fullerton June 29-July 24 and UCLA from July 20-Aug. 14.

The programs meet Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and interested individuals must start the process by submitting an application. Every accepted student is required to attend an orientation June 27.

There is a cost to attend each of these sessions, but scholarships are available that could offer up to 100% off tuition. The assistance is available based on financial need.