They may be 8,500 miles apart, but students from Madison and Botswana, located in southern Africa, have really been able to get to know each other this summer through These Teens Mean Busine$$ Academy, a partnership between CEOs of Tomorrow and Stepping Stones International.
The program provides opportunities for students to learn about entrepreneurship through resources around Madison. This summer, their virtual partnership, now in its second year, has allowed students opportunities to collaborate and meet students outside of their country and provided them with opportunities to obtain high school and college credits.
“Our program, These Teens Means Busine$$ Academy, is our college-level, social entrepreneurship education course,” said Roxie Hentz, Founding Executive Director of CEOs of Tomorrow Inc. “We offer it every summer. Students sign up and they learn business and entrepreneurship. With it, they earn three Madison College prior learning credits, they earn a digital learning badge and one MMSD (Madison Metropolitan School District) high school credit if they’re a student at MMSD.”
Prior to the pandemic, CEOs of Tomorrow held their sessions at Madison College. Transitioning virtually during the pandemic was challenging, but despite odds, the staff at CEOs of Tomorrow created a virtual learning space where 18 students from the U.S. and Botswana collaborate and learn about entrepreneurship.
“I value and like the teachers because they answer all my questions and always help me when I’m confused,” said Saanvi Gandhari, a student from CEOs of Tomorrow. “I also value the CEOs of Tomorrow’s These Teens Mean Busine$$ Academy because they teach me so much about business and entrepreneurship. I learned so much from this course and I’m really glad I took it. I’m hoping to use this information from the course soon. I also hope to gain pristine colleges’ attention for my future career.
During the pandemic, Hentz decided to collaborate with Stepping Stones International for the program to make up for the students’ inability to travel globally over the summer like they typically do. SSI has been operating for 15 years with the vision to empower youth to become leaders and achieve their dreams.
“Initially, students were not sure about the program and even asked if starting a business at 15 years of age was possible, but after explaining the importance of teaching them about developing a business through CEOs of Tomorrow syllabus, they understood the concept of activation sustainable opportunities at a younger age,” said Talent Kahuni, education coordinator of Stepping Stones International. “They all want to start up something so that they may help with their families’ expenses. We are hoping that our students gain inspiration and know that they do not have to have completed a degree to start thinking of running a business, something that is not so common in Botswana. I hope we are opening them to a new world of opportunities and possibilities.”
Students in both programs have had the opportunity to learn and expand their cultural awareness from this summer’s program. This is the second year where CEOs of Tomorrow has provided students with a summer joint international course. In August 2019, CEOs of Tomorrow sent 8 students from the United States to meet and work with 8 participants from Stepping Stones International (video below). These 16 participants learned how to facilitate global relationships, social enterprise, and how to successfully sell products.
Through this collaboration, students are also able to build relationships with a diverse group of people from almost 9,000 miles away. This cultural awareness in business and entrepreneurship is something that students value and plan to develop throughout their time in the programming.
“I value the fact that Ms. Hewan [Schade, youth program director,] and Dr. Hentz work very hard to provide us with the knowledge of business concepts and to guide and inspire us to explore the business world,” said Nadya Konadu of CEOs of Tomorrow. “Through this experience, I hope to learn, develop, and gain business skills that will make me a valuable professional and help me in the future.”
Final presentations from students on their business plans to combat racism, gun violence, world hunger and other social issues will take place this Thursday. Email [email protected] for information on how to tune in to the presentations this week.