SBA Elevates Millennial Entrepreneurs in 2015
by Kellie I. LeDet
Jan 07, 2015 | 5014 views | 0 0 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Millennials born between 1980 and the mid-2000’s, are the largest generation in the U.S. and represented one-third of the total U.S. population in 2013. They are a technologically connected and diverse generation reflected in their many pursuits.

Their unprecedented enthusiasm for technology has the potential to spark change in traditional economic institutions and the labor market. The priority that millennials place on creativity and innovation will make them an important engine for the U.S. economy for decades ahead.

Millennials were born to be entrepreneurs and here at SBA Region II, we’re making their entrepreneurial dreams a reality. For example, in New York City, millennial entrepreneurs Ismaila and Ibrahim Bah used their own savings and loans from family coupled with a $5,000 SBA Microloan and another $5,000 loan from the Business Outreach Center Network (BOC) to make their dream of owning their own grocery store in the South Bronx a reality.

When Noor Hallal African American Market opened its door, the asylees from Guinea were not only able to realize the American dream, but were also able to give back to the community.

The brothers strategically opened the market across the street from a public housing project on an active commercial street in order to provide local residents with easy access to fresh foods and meats, not just from the USA but from around the world.

The Bah brothers also made use of other resources provided by SBA and BOC including learning how to market their business to increase foot traffic. The store, which is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, is now so busy that they had to hire help.

They have also expanded the scope of their business and are now purchasing rice by the pallet and selling it to local restaurants and shops at the wholesale level, creating an additional income stream.

It’s exciting to witness millennials becoming entrepreneurial trailblazers in our local communities and neighborhoods with SBA assistance. However, despite all their promise, unemployment still remains high among this population.

One in four millennials are experiencing unemployment and for those who grow up in underserved communities, they face even higher rates of poverty and unemployment.

For instance, young African-Americans and Latinos under the age of 25 are twice as likely to be unemployed and thus disenfranchised from the American dream and economic stability.

For many young millennials of color, entrepreneurship isn’t about monetizing a hobby for some extra cash, it’s about finding a way to support themselves long term. Research shows that more than half of millennials are interested in starting their own business, especially African-American and Hispanic males.

That’s why the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Maria Contreras-Sweet, recently announced the “My Brother’s Keeper Initiative for Millennial Entrepreneurs.” It’s a new federal outreach and education campaign to help America’s millennials become what we call "enterprise-ready."

President Barack Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by young people of color and to ensure that all young people can overcome challenges and achieve their potential.

The president’s new economic opportunity agenda for millennials creates new policies to support this generation.

At the SBA, our message to millennials is clear, bring your ideas and dreams to us and together we can help you map out a plan to achieve them. The SBA is here to help millennials, and others interested in starting or growing a small business, jumpstart their small business dreams and unleash their potential where their talents and interests lie.

Overall, we want to help millennials succeed as small business owners and we won’t charge them a dime.

Remember, entrepreneurship can be the answer, if your question is "What’s next for me?” If you’re a potential millennial entrepreneur or know someone that is, go to www.sba.gov/young to learn more.

Kellie I. LeDet is Region II Administrator for the Small Business Administration.

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