Channel Their Idealism

teach a girl to think

I’ve been outlining tips for raising entrepreneurial girls, talking about letting them unleash their curiosity, not minding getting dirty, and embracing and learning from failure. We need, too, to let them live in idealism—the kind that propels them to continue to want to change, to do good in the world.

We too often associate entrepreneurship solely with business success, and particularly with generating wealth. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to build a big, profitable company, but not all entrepreneurs are motivated by money. Many are passionate about making the world a better place—and research shows that this is especially true of women and girls.

Take Estrella Hernandez. When she was a 13-year-old, she began to learn about the dangers of childhood obesity from her father, a volunteer with the mayor’s fitness council in San Antonio, a city with one of the largest populations of overweight people in the U.S. The health of some members of Estrella’s family had also been compromised by their being overweight, and Estrella didn’t want to see her generation follow that path. Her outsized wish: to end childhood obesity.

Estrella thought, “What if I could come up with a solution to the problem of childhood obesity?” Her father discovered VentureLab and enrolled Estrella in a one-week VentureLab Entrepreneurship Camp 101. It sparked her entrepreneurial spirit and unleashed her creativity. Estrella and four team members created a phone app that would reward kids with points for walking, points that could be redeemed for things that kids want, such as video games. The more kids walked, the more they would be rewarded.

 

After the weeklong camp had ended, Estrella continued to work on her project. She eventually won a scholarship to a program that helped her with the nuts and bolts of taking her phone app to the next stage.

Estrella was already bilingual in English and Spanish, but she now learned a different kind of language: coding. And she began to write code, developing a working prototype. Estrella took her project all the way through to pitching it to investors. She raised over $200,000 in funding for her start-up.

Estrella’s story illustrates how teaching girls entrepreneurial skills can unlock their interest in science and technology as they see how it can be applied to meaningful real-world problems.

In my next post providing tips for raising entrepreneurial girls, I will explore the idea of how girls can “play” their way to success, how we can encourage them to have fun and to explore ideas from different angles.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you about the girls in your life, and how you or someone else has helped them to unlock their entrepreneurial spirit by encouraging their idealistic tendencies. What happened as a result? Thank you for sharing. I so appreciate your comments!

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