Our Theory of Change

This decade has seen the highest youth unemployment rate since World War Two. The youth unemployment crisis and structural inequities in our socio-economic system have resulted in a lack of economic opportunity for millions of young adults. Even when hard working young people do find jobs, many are low-income, dead-end ones. Careers and a living wage end up perpetually out of grasp. We don’t just need more jobs, but better ones, to gainfully employ the 80+ million young adults entering or already in the workforce.

We can do better.

While many programs across the country focus on helping underserved young adults get a job or into college, very few programs exist for helping them start their own businesses.

By 2020, more than 40% of workers, most of them young adults, will effectively be entrepreneurs — whether they are self-employed freelancers, Gig Economy workers or Main Street small business owners.

The access to resources needed to succeed in entrepreneurship is inequitably distributed, but the talent and determination are everywhere.

Over 10 million underserved young adults in the United States say they want to start a business — but they lack the resources to do so.

At Youth Business USA, we believe that the key to empowering these aspiring entrepreneurs is to provide them with the right support, from the right people, at the right time in their entrepreneurial journey.

The Youth Business USA community has a special focus on serving young entrepreneurs ages 18 to 29 who face significant barriers to business ownership. If you have to get your own customers for your own business, then you’re an entrepreneur in our book. Our entrepreneurs come from diverse backgrounds and are working hard to make their business ideas a reality — whether they want to be their own boss, invent something new, make money, or make a difference in the world. They are building all kinds of businesses — from clothing lines to catering companies, food trucks to consulting companies, hair stylists to mechanics, entertainment artists to graphic designers.

Whether or not they’ve gone to college, whether or not they have to work other jobs on the side — all of our entrepreneurs are chasing their dreams.

Here’s what our organization does to help them succeed:

  1. The right support: Classroom-based or online training is a one-size-fits-all approach that fails many learners. That’s why our support is one-on-one, and uses a structured, tested entrepreneurship methodology to help our entrepreneurs achieve their business goals.
  2. The right people: Over 40 million adults say they would seriously consider mentoring. We leverage experienced professionals as business advisors and mentors to deliver this personalized support. Our volunteer advisors and mentors have diverse backgrounds and strong skills — some run small businesses, others work with global corporations such as Accenture, Google, and Lyft.
  3. At the right time: Using a digital platform, we quickly match our young entrepreneurs with the right advisors and mentors to help them solve their most pressing problems. When our entrepreneurs are ready, we also help them find the right funding sources for their business — whether it’s crowdfunding, low interest business loans, or investors.

This combination of support leads to young entrepreneurs developing new skills, broadening their network, accessing more of the right resources — and ultimately achieving their business goals.

When more young entrepreneurs in our communities achieve their business goals, great things happen. Their new businesses create assets for themselves and good jobs for others. Their products and services clothe, house, transport, clean, and feed us all. They build and shape the very fabric of our communities.

We know that starting a business isn’t easy. We’ve been in your shoes — we’re serial entrepreneurs. It takes lots of hard work and persistence. You’re constantly overcoming obstacles. But we understand that sometimes you just HAVE to act on your dreams. If you’re a young, aspiring entrepreneur with few resources, we want to help you find your path and build the right business.

If you’re an experienced professional who had help getting to where you are now, you can pay it forward. When you share your time and talents with our young entrepreneurs, you’re helping make dreams — and new businesses — a reality. We can level the playing field in entrepreneurship together. You can be part of a movement to create hundreds of thousands of businesses led by our emerging young entrepreneurs.

We invite you to join us in building a better, more equitable world. Talk is cheap, let’s work together and do it.

Written by Nicolas Cary and Bo Ghirardelli

Co-founders, Youth Business USA