Four Foley High School Students got the opportunity of a lifetime Thursday night, March 6.
The students are members of a relatively new organization called Young Entrepreneur Academy (YEA!) of Foley High School. The club gives high school students a chance to create their own business plans and apply for grant money to actually start those businesses.
Thursday night, four Foley students presented their unique business plans to a panel of local, prominent business owners, and all four received the money they needed to start up their businesses.
“I’m only 17, and a lot of people my age have no idea what they want to do in their life,” said Lydia Williams, a young entrepreneur, “I’m actually dedicated to this because I could see myself having this business in the future.”
The students created businesses of all kinds, from photography to tea.
“I want to sell tea and tea accessories online while promoting creative storytelling and promoting literacy online through the use of blogging,” said Sarah Gayle Peters, another member of the organization who presented her work Thursday.
Students said they’ve had to work incredibly hard to get to this point, putting in several hours a week for the last 30 weeks to plan their entrepreneurial future.
“We’ve had mentors from all over Baldwin County come to help us learn this, we take study programs, we go on field trips, we’ve toured buildings, we’ve put in amazing hard work,” explained Peters, “It’s basically a college class you take with school.”
Club supervisors say students don’t get a grade, and have no incentive other than to move themselves forward.
“These students, on their own mind, on their own time, on their own commitment, with no pay, no grade, no incentive, other than a dream in their heart, that they could have their own business,” said Donna Watts, one of the organizers for the event.
The overall winner of the presentations Thursday night was Malcom Perdue, with his sports technology business idea. He will travel to Florida to compete for college scholarship money.
There are only some 20 YEA! organizations across the country, with only two clubs of this kind in Baldwin County, one in Foley and one in Gulf Shores High School.
Gulf Shores YEA! students will be presenting their ideas to a panel next week, March 12, at the Erie Meyer Civic Center in Gulf Shores from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. The event will be free and open to the public.