Minding Our Business Mentor Programs in Entrepreneurship

Mindng Our Business (M.O.B.) is a community outreach program of Rider University College of Business Administration. The purpose of Minding Our Business is to advance the personal and vocational development of Trenton youth through entrepreneurship education and mentoring.

Minding Our Business operates three programs: the Service Learning program, the Summer Program, and the Advanced Program. Since 1997, MOB has trained and mentored more than 1300 Trenton middle school students, ages 11-14, in starting and running their own businesses. The skills needed to run a business successfully are also important life skills.

The Service-Learning Program
The Spring Program is a 12-week after-school program that serves approximately 200 students at partner middle schools in Trenton. Students, divided into teams, attend twelve 90-minute program sessions. Mentors, who are Rider University College of Business Administration students, guide student teams through the process of starting and running a business, from concept to business plan to start-up loan, to grand opening. Their efforts culminate in a Market Fair Day in which they put their businesses to the test.

The Summer Program
The program provides 60 Trenton youth with the opportunity to start and run a business individually during the summer. Middle school students participate in 12 days of training in entrepreneurship at Rider University and run their businesses throughout the summer. The intensive training program challenges students to improve their reading and math skills. The experiential component involves four Summer Market Fairs at different sites in Trenton where students run their businesses. Prior to each market fair students participate in a business trip to purchase merchandise for their businesses. Also, prior to each market fair students participate in a Business Coaching Session. At each session, parents and other volunteers help students effectively plan to run their businesses at the upcoming market fair.  In 2008 the program was recognized by the prestigious Center for Summer Learning at John Hopkins University as one of the top 20 summer programs in the country.

The Advanced Program

The MOB Advanced Program, created in 2004, is designed for these students who need additional training and support to make their businesses sustainable year-round. There are 15 students enrolled in the 2007 MOB Advanced Program. The program involves three components: intensive training at Rider University, a 10 month-long business coaching program, and a selling program that provide opportunities for students to sell year-around.

Impact on Trenton Youth
In its 12 year history, MOB programs have been successful in advancing the personal and vocational development of Trenton youth. Our research indicates that students in all MOB programs become more interested in going to college and in starting their own businesses. Students participating in MOB observe positive changes in self and improvement in important work/life skills. Research on academic records data indicates that MOB participation reduces school absenteeism and tardiness. MOB also improves self esteem among participating students.  This is what students have to say about their experiences in MOB: “My life dream is to own a business. MOB made me more confident about achieving my dream.” “MOB didn’t just keep me out of trouble during the summer, I learned a great deal and my desire to have a business keeps growing.”

Impact on Rider University Mentors
Since 1997, more than 285 Rider University College of Business Administration students have mentored teams of Trenton students through the process of starting and running their own businesses. Mentors’ reflections provide evidence of a powerful learning experience and of the positive impact of MOB on their own personal and vocational development. This is what Rider University students have to say about their experiences as mentors:  “MOB is not like any other class offered…This class is based on a life-changing program.” “I learned that I’m capable of helping others…that I have some things in common with all of the children  ...I am definitely not the same person that I was at the beginning.” “The skills that I learned at MOB I will carry with me to other aspects of my life…I learned team work and the actual meaning of mentoring.”

For more information:
  
   Kevin W. Wortham

   Project Director
   Minding Our Business
   Tel: 609-731-9311
   Email: Kevin.Wortham@yahoo.com
   
   Sigfredo A. Hernandez
   Founder
   Minding Our Business
   Tel: 609-895-5509
   Email: hernandez@rider.edu