I got to know Anna Campbell of Women Business Owners in mid 2004 back in the days when I was still working from home and I have been highly impressed with her work – she inspired me to set up my own businesswomen’s networking group, WomenBizSense in 2006.
Anna is the President and Founder of Women Business Owners (501c3 non profit organization) where the mission is to help women and youth build their current and future businesses with integrity, intelligence, and longevity.
As an entrepreneur, Anna has owned a candle company, printing company, and an event coordination company. She’s an avid volunteer within her community, helping her local schools, community association, business groups, and other related organizations.
Anna has infectious energy, positive, warm and most of all, a giver. (I noticed that lots of successful people are givers in life. What you give, you receive.)
So it was with much excitement that I learnt early this year that Anna was starting an entrepreneurship adventure called Junior Apprentice US Program for budding American teenagers between the ages of 10 and 18 years.
Says Anna,” Ideas were forming in early March of 2008 about a program that Women Business Owners (WBO) could offer for the next generation. We wanted to figure out how we could make an impact on the lives of those interested in business ownership, before it was time for them to make the final decisions in adulthood.”
The logical option, notes Anna, would be to mentor and educate the young and provide them with the connections and tools necessary to build a strong base for future business ownerships. (What a great idea!)
Their plans include hosting the first annual Junior Apprentice US Summer Camps this summer.
With the theme “creating a foundation for future entrepreneurs”, I am happy to have had the chance to interview her. It’s fabulous to be able to pick her brains and understand more about this amazing program.
Personally I love the idea of mentoring youths especially teenagers who are open and excited about being entrepreneurs. As business owners ourselves, Nic and I always love the idea of supporting youth in achieving their dreams. We have met so many energetic and idea-driven youths recently but that’s totally another story for another day.
Krista: What gave you the idea to start this program?
Anna: We were trying to think of a way that we could get information and training to entrepreneurs earlier. So that the success rate would be higher and the reality of owning a business would be understood before starting a business.
Krista: What are your bigger aims & hopes for this program?
Anna: We are hoping that we will effectively reach the younger generations as soon as they start getting interested in business ideas, making an income, and working with others to form groups to raise funds. This way we can help build a stronger foundation for future entrepreneurs and create a structured environment for learning, sharing, and growing.
Krista: How will students be chosen for the program?
Anna: They will be asked to submit an application. We will try and accept all interested students into the summer camp program.
Krista: How will mentors be chosen?
Anna: Mentors will be asked to submit an application. Then each application will go through the board over the project, then interviews will be conducted with each potential mentor, and a background check will be done.
Krista: In what ways will the mentors help these students over the course of 1 year? What forms of communication will they use? Will they meet up? Will they check in on each other online? Will today’s social tools play a role in communication?
Anna: We are wanting to focus on hands on learning with a generation of electronic users. Running a business does still require some personal interaction between some owners, staff, and clients.
We will be utilizing online software for communication, however most of the mentoring will be done in person at the mentor’s place of business. This way the students really have a full perspective of business in and outs. Whether it is warehouse shopping, retail selling, creating a product, virtually shopping, shipping, and selling, or working with other businesses to promote online or through the media. The details of the program are being worked out during several planning meetings.
Krista: What happens after 1 year of mentoring?
Anna: The students re-evaluate if owning a business is what they really want, what type of business they are most interested in, and how they plan on making it a reality. Then they go through the summer camp experience again to learn on a higher level, and then are paired up with a mentor that is better suited for the type of business they are interested in owning and operating.
Krista: How is evaluation done to determine key students?
Anna: Workshop leaders will be observing the students they are teaching and providing a survey about the interaction, interest level, and ability they were aware of. Interviews will be conducted following the summer sessions to get a final idea of the seriousness of each student. Then those that score highest will be asked to attend the final camp session.
Krista: Do you have plans for a global program of this nature?
Anna: Yes. We plan on starting small and building the foundation, then creating programs throughout the world and bring this type of awareness and empowerment to children everywhere.
Krista: Will there be exercises and lessons incorporated into the mentoring program?
Anna: Yes, we will be including accounting, networking, marketings, sales, and product/service critiques throughout the annual program.
Krista: Who is in your planning committee?
Anna: We are inviting interested entrepreneurs, superintendents, community leaders, and political leaders to participate in the forming of this program.
Discover more about Anna Campbell’s Junior Apprentice Program at www.jrapprenticeus.org
Thanks to Anna and her team for this endeavour! I wish her all the success and hope we can start something similar here too.