Every year, our community produces several athletes that go on to college and some are so good that they go onto the pro ranks in their sport. Recruiters from colleges all over the country spread out to different tournaments and events to prospect for our youngsters who can one day play at the college level. These events are huge money makers for the promotors of the events, coach’s who take the kids to these tournaments, the referees who officiate the games, the vendors who sell food and athletic apparel. It’s really a big deal and if kids want to be seen by several recruiters or even a particular recruiter or coach from a certain school of their choice, they want to be on a team at one of these tournaments.
This program is called the he Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and is one of the largest non-profit volunteer sports organizations in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs. Parents from all over the country let their children participate in this process because this is where their child can develop the skills they need to show college recruiters and coach’s that they can help their program and in return receive a free education when they are choose by a school and offered a scholarship.
A full ride scholarship can pay for a child’s education at the undergrad and graduate level in some cases. So for many parents, it’s a payoff that is well worth the effort from the child and finances from the parents to invest in a program that can get their child that scholarship.
Many of you are aware of this process because you’ve either had a child on an AAU team or know someone who does. Parents follow their child all over the country to see them play, spending thousands on team fees (which adds up to thousands of dollars over the years), uniforms, tournament fees, food, gas and time because the program for the most part works. Many of the athletes we see at these big college games are a result of AAU programs and my contention is that if we can produce student athletes with this process, why then can’t we use the same approach to produce major entrepreneurs from our community using the same model?
Just like we produce top flight athlete’s with, we need to be producing entrepreneurs who can either go onto major college business programs or even into business right out of high school if they have a good business plan or idea to do so.
If we invested the same time and energy in an Entrepreneurial Amateur Business (EAB) we could produce thousands of young entrepreneurs out our community who learn how to start and run their businesses. It would take the same type of time and commitment from our students that they invest into athletics. They would have after school entrepreneurial practices where they could learn business skills just like an athlete. On weekends, they would continue the process by hooking up with an EAB coach or business that could teach them the skills to run a business of their choice. Just like athletes, they would work on EAB teams or programs during the summer, interning at businesses where they could take their business skills to a whole new level the way athletes do. Parents would be required to invest the necessary time and money in their child to get them into an EAB program that an athlete is required to invest.
As a result, we could see young entrepreneurs all over the country, maybe not at the rate we see athlete’s, but on a significant level where they could come back to their community’s and start businesses that could revitalize black business districts all over the country and even throughout the African Diaspora. This would be a major paradigm shift for our people because instead of our children being put in a pipeline to go to prison. Or get caught up in a street life, where they are doomed to failure and therefore add no value but crime and destruction to our community. They could become the productive citizens we need to build a strong business climate where our people could provide jobs for ourselves and provide goods and services made by us for us.
The sky is the limit for such a program because no longer would the businesses and institutions in our neighborhoods be dominated by people from outside of our community, they would now be ran by us. The banks, grocery stores, department stores, pharmacies, insurance companies, beauty supply stores, car dealer ships, electronic stores, you name it, would be run by our youth.
No longer would they be conditioned to beg other people for jobs, because they would be trained, just like athletes train, to be entrepreneurs. This would take us from being the most unemployed and powerless. To the most employed and powerful. Just like we see athletes from all over the world who have been trained to be great. We would have entrepreneurs from throughout the African Diaspora who have been trained to be great business leaders and as The Honorable Marcus Garvey said “Captains of Industry”.
By Kefing Moor
Business owner and administrator of the African Market Mall Online Facebook page