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I find it disturbing that many people – particularly minorities, youth and women – are so daunted by the prospect of starting a business that they choose not to do so. I believe that society must work to provide equal opportunities for all citizens; what people choose to do with the opportunities presented to them is their own prerogative. This belief contradicts the common notion of equality of outcomes: that society should provide some guaranteed level of income or wealth regardless of the effort and ingenuity of the individual. In keeping with these beliefs, I would use the $1 million to create an organization that fosters entrepreneurship among young, primarily urban, minorities.
The organization would offer programs offering intensive classroom learning and applied business challenges, then underwrite small grants and loans to help successful students launch businesses. The group would continue to support graduates with ongoing financial and operational assistance. For example, the organization would provide introductions to potential business partners, and workshops on topics such as accounting for the small businessperson. The organization would hold round-tables where graduates could return to the classroom to discuss their real world successes and failures, sharing anecdotes and advice with the group.
In my opinion, the best possible charity is one that helps people help themselves. If the inner cities are ever to emerge from the quagmire of poverty and violence, opportunities for financial success must present themselves to the inhabitants. Through this proposed program of education, mentorship, positive reinforcement and financial support, I truly believe that the $1 million endowment would become an investment that will bring returns to society many times the principal. Invested in this manner, the $1 million would make a real difference in the lives of many people.
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