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Supports Young Entrepreneurs

SAGE provides a new educational structure and support network for high school students around the world to advance:

The SAGE idea is modeled after interscholastic sports. It works like this. A team of at least three teenagers is formed, either by the teens themselves or in conjunction with an entrepreneurial coach or adult ally (e.g., teacher, business leader, or sponsoring organization). If the team is affiliated with a high school, it can be part of an existing class, or it can be co-curricular. In the late spring or early summer of each year, the teams travel to a tournament to present the results of their innovations to a panel of jurists recruited from the business and civic community.

The ticket to enter the competition? A SAGE team must enter one of two categories. It must choose to operate either a:

  1. Socially responsible business (SRB)
  2. Social enterprise business (SEB)

By operating an SRB or an SEB, the team earns the right to travel to a regional or national tournament. At the national tournament, the best team in each category wins the right to represent their country at the SAGE World Cup.

If SAGE teams are searching for new ideas, they are advised to learn about the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. The eight goal recognizes the importance of cooperation to develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth. Moreover, in his book, The World is Flat, journalist Thomas Friedman (2005) commented on the importance of youth empowerment.

His comments apply to SAGE’s goals:

“Give young people a context where they can translate a positive imagination into reality, give them a context in which someone with a grievance can have it adjudicated in a court of law without having to bribe the judge with a goat, give them a context in which they can pursue an entrepreneurial idea and become the richest or the most creative or most respected people in their own country, no matter what their background, give them a context in which any complaint or idea can be published in the newspaper, give them a context in which anyone can run for office—and guess what? They usually don’t want to blow up the world. They usually want to be part of it.”

SAGE is premised on the compelling usefulness of assisting youths to plan and operate businesses, as a means to for them to use their classroom learning and develop self-reliance. Entrepreneurship is a ke  y element; according to C.K. Prahalad, author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid [Wharton School Publishing, 2005]: “Companies, academics and NGOs are beginning to see that the private sector can play a key role in improving the quality of life for many people, including poverty reduction.” Collaboration is crucial between the private and public sectors, and market development at the “bottom of the pyramid” can create millions of new entrepreneurs at the grass roots level—from women working as distributors and entrepreneurs to village-level micro enterprises. “Entrepreneurship on a massive scale is the key,” he said [p. 2].

Our program fills an unmet need at the high school level because many young people who want to become entrepreneurs may never be able to realize their dreams. They do not have the necessary knowledge or skills to act on that knowledge; they are missing role models or personal relationships to see what it means to be a successful entrepreneur; and they lack encouragement needed to undertake a new venture.” (Walstad, W. & Kourilsy, M.L. (1998), Entrepreneurial attitudes and knowledge of black youth, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 23(2), 5-18.