MBV 2019 St. John’s Day 5: Youth Empowerment Day

We are in the final stretch of Minnesota Business Venture (MBV) at St. John’s University! Today began with a keynote address from Stuart Jansen of the organization WE. According to Jansen, WE empowers young people to discover their talents, and then use them to take action and make positive change in the world. “We all have the power to create a positive impact in our communities,” he told the audience. Jansen shared the story about his journey with WE and how the movement changed his life. His final words encouraged students to find a cause they are passionate about, and then look for ways to make a difference: “Service gives us a unique opportunity to develop our leadership skills, to develop our empathy. Each of us has the tools to create powerful change in our schools, in our country, and our planet.”

After that, students split up to attend breakout sessions about societal impact. Speakers from nonprofit organizations taught students about things like volunteering and service in the community. It was great to see the students learning about the importance of helping others in the entrepreneurial world. 

Later, students had a couple hours to eat lunch and prepare for their business plan presentations. Each company was assigned a group of ‘investors’ (local volunteers from the business community), to whom they had to present their product. Each presentation was around 15 minutes long, and every company member had a role. Whether they presented the marketing, operations, or finance section of the presentation, the students did a wonderful job with explaining their products in a professional manner. Afterwards, the ‘investors’ asked students questions about their products and provided feedback about their presentations. Finally, the ‘investors’ told the students how much money they would invest in the product. Most of the companies were granted the loan they asked for, which was super exciting!

When all of the presentations were over, students filed into the auditorium to hear the final speaker of the week: Jesse Ross of Mr. Jesse Ross LLC & The Minneapolis Foundation. Ross shared the story of how he had to leave home at a young age and grew up living on the streets for some of his childhood. He told the students to ponder three questions: “What do you want from/for your life? What are you willing to start/stop to get it? Who’s counting on you?” Ross dared the students to pursue their dreams, no matter how crazy they seem. “You can do anything in the world. Just don’t choose to do nothing,” Ross advised. 

What a wonderful way to wrap up Minnesota Business Venture at St. John’s University this week. Tonight, students are celebrating a successful week of camp by playing Minute To Win It and attending the MBV dance. Tomorrow, students and parents are attending the closing ceremony, receiving awards, and saying goodbye. We loved MBV this week and are so grateful for this amazing experience. Thank you so much for your support! See you all next year!