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Young Women Entrepreneurs

Ever have to write a business plan, take it to New York, and present it four times in one week, including to folks from Goldman Sachs? That’s what 20 teenage girls are doing next week at an entrepreneurship camp run by the nonprofit Girls Inc. and sponsored by the Goldman Sachs Foundation.

For the third year running, young women ages 15 to 18 worked in teams of five to develop detailed business plans, complete with market research, cost estimates, financial statements, and marketing plans. The top four teams were selected from 13 groups competing to go to the free camp. Over the next seven days, they’ll meet with women business owners in New York, get training and mentoring, and refine their business models.

“It’s just putting them on that path just thinking about entrepreneurship and thinking about what goes into it,” Girls Inc.’s Cheryl Messer told me.

The four teams come from Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas. Their business ideas include digital yearbooks; an interactive venue for parents and young kids to play and learn together; green accessories made from recycled supplies; and an eco-friendly salon with organic products.

The goal isn’t to get the young women to actually launch these businesses, but rather to get them to think about entrepreneurship as a career. Women owned less than 30 percent of all U.S. businesses in 2006, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research, and while the number of women-owned companies is growing faster than the total number of firms, sales and employment growth is much slower than the total. The preparation offered by Girls Inc. (and other groups) can only help even that score.

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