Business is the life blood of every neighborhood, city, state, or country. It is also a key to seeing people lift themselves out of poverty. Helping people sustain themselves does not just mean giving them skills to find better-paying jobs, but it also means training entrepreneurs who can build their own socially responsible businesses that provide important products and services for their own and other communities and creating jobs for their fellow citizens.
We work on teaching how their businesses can help support other businesses at all levels. Our entrepreneur students also learn how to raise their own capital to invest in other businesses and diversify their portfolios to mitigate personal financial risk.
So far our class in East St. Louis runs three businesses with a student board of directors that runs each business and decides how to use the money either to invest in their own skill development to gain specialized knowledge to grow a particular business, to grow a particular business, or to invest in a new venture.
They raised the money to start their jewelry business from their healthy snacks shop and then made connections while traveling to import new products from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, Gambia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. They then took capital earned from the other two businesses and invested in a community garden where the grew inexpensive, organic produce to offer to the people living in the projects within walking distance.
In Nicaragua, our martial arts school, Alfa y Omega MMA, has a hybrid model with paying clients that sustain the school so they can give free classes to kids who can’t afford it. They even have their own media and social media strategies to get publicity and draw new clients, and they have expanded their network even further throughout Latin America to work with fight promoters, other schools, and local businesses to sponsor them as athletes.