NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 22, 1996

In 1987, former special-education teacher and financial analyst Steve Mariotti launched a program called the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Its goal is to teach disadvantaged youths how to start and run their own businesses.

The program's financial backers believe that poverty remains with us -- not because of transitions in our economy or because of cuts in social spending -- but because of a lack of enough entrepreneurial drive and creativity among the poor, as well as a maze of taxes and regulations that make it difficult for the poor to start their own businesses.

  • Since its founding, NFTE has taught about 11,500 youths the basics of entrepreneurship at schools and volunteer organizations in 14 cities across the nation.
  • The program's "mini-MBA course" teaches them about supply and demand, cost/benefit analysis, record keeping, the present and future value of money, advertising and marketing, and other elements of starting a business.
  • The organization's $3.6 million annual budget is financed by contributors.
  • Graduates usually market retail apparel, sporting goods, beauty products or some form of entertainment.

NFTE says that between 10 percent and 14 percent of its graduates go on to start lasting businesses, and that the average business earns $85 per week. While that is far from adequate, the businesses are expected to grow with time.

Source: Hugh Pearson, "Up By Their Youthful Bootstraps?" Wall Street Journal, February 22, 1996.


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