Youth In Biz

Youth-N-Business team members stand in front of their new kiosk at Shoreline Village. From left: Braulio Roman, Alexander Palacioa, Geovanni Martinez, Dilsia Gutierrez, Thelssy Medina, Kyle Holmes and Brandon Chanthorn.

About a year ago, Debra Fixen, general manager of Shoreline Village, had one of those “Field of Dreams” moments:

If the ownership of Shoreline Village offers to help with a kiosk for students to run a business, will they come?

The answer is a huge, enthusiastic yes.

Fixen pitched the idea to Bob Cabeza, vice president of community development for the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, who loved the idea.

So the YMCA’s Community Development group, with a helping hand from Shoreline Village and $20,000 from Wells Fargo, has initiated a youth-run program to teach young people how to start and run a small business.

Youth-N-Business had its grand opening over Memorial Day weekend with a kiosk at Rainbow Harbor, in the grassy knoll next to the Yard House. A group of 30 students selected cell phone accessories to be their first product. The kiosk will continue its operations through the summer, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

“The YMCA centers play an important role in our community,” Fixen said. “We have families that can’t afford many extracurriculars for their children. Most of the businesses at Shoreline Village are small and I have seen firsthand how valuable small business is to our economy and the some of the challenges they face. Owning a business can be an avenue to financial prosperity and give the youth another option for their future. The skills they will learn will give them a jumpstart should they pursue their own business and an insight into how business operates.”

Thirteen girls and 17 boys, ages 14 to 17, from Poly, Wilson, Cabrillo, Renaissance, Millikan and Lakewood high schools comprise the team running the kiosk. Each student will get a $500 academic stipend for the summer.

“We want the kids to learn skill sets so they can go into small business,” Cabeza said. “We want them to learn how to get a business permit, how to get insurance. They selected the logos, they selected the name, the color scheme and the design. We want them to be involved in every step of the business. They are running a real-world company.”

The students decided on cell phone accessories because no other kiosk in Shoreline Village was selling those products.

“We came here a couple of times and looked around to see what was being sold,” said Geovanni Martinez, 17, a student at Poly High School. “We decided that the phone accessories were a hot commodity, so we researched prices and marked up the products as best we could to make a profit.”

Cabeza said at the end of the summer, if the business turns a profit, the students will decide how to spend the money. But it appears that decision has already been made.

“We were talking that we should invest in stocks since we are a business and the goal is to teach us about business,” Martinez said.

“We think that’s a cool idea.”

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