Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Independent Youth – Empowering Teens through Entrepreneurship Education

Name of Social Enterprise?

Independent Youth Inc.

What is Independent Youth?
Independent Youth Inc. is a non-profit organization that educates youth (ages 12-18) on entrepreneurship. The organization focuses on teaching students the fundamentals of business ownership while bringing awareness to the importance of it. The programs and resources provided by Independent Youth enable students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, preparing them for future success.

What is your product or service?
Independent Youth’s mission is to generate entrepreneurial awareness and understanding among youth through an array of educational programs and hands-on experiences.

Independent Youth accomplishes its mission through various programs including; entrepreneurial academies, business webinars, on-site student trainings, annual community symposiums, internships, college scholarships, an online business center and website tools that enable students to create a business website to market their own product/service and company.

Independent Youth is here to equip students with entrepreneurial fundamentals and the confidence to take their ideas and develop them into a successful business venture of their own. With access to Independent Youth students:

  • Build confidence while increasing leadership skills
  • Develop and strengthen their entrepreneurial mindset
  • Gain creative problem solving skills
  • Learn financial literacy and financial responsibility
  • Increase social and networking skills

Who is the Founder and What is their Background?

Tanya Hamilton

My name is Tanya Hamilton and I am the Founder/Executive Director of Independent Youth Inc. I began my career in marketing and business development, gaining professional experience in various industries including; professional sports, healthcare, technology and Real Estate. Utilizing the knowledge and skills I obtained over the years, I followed my passion of working with youth to build strong, confident, educated entrepreneurs. I have a Masters of Business Administration Degree with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from The University of Portland and an Undergraduate Degree in Business Management from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC.

Why was the social venture created?
I created Independent Youth in order to help students realize that entrepreneurship is an option for all, regardless of a person’s background. The United States educational system is built to teach students how to climb the corporate ladder. Many schools provide little to no tools and education on the process of building and growing a successful business. Independent Youth strives to empower teens by showing them that developing and starting a business of their own is an attainable goal if you put your mind to it.

Date officially launched?
Independent Youth officially launched its first program in September 2010.

How many years and how many people has this person helped?
Independent Youth has been in operation for less than 1 year and has reached over 2,000 students nationwide. The Independent Youth in Schools program goes into middle schools, high schools and community organizations nationwide, presenting various interactive workshops to students.

Could others help you and how?
Independent Youth is always looking for successful entrepreneurs who are interested in mentoring IY’s student entrepreneurs. In this unique program, students are able to learn from their mentor while building a company of their own.

What free online or offline tools do you use?
Independent Youth offers an array of free resources on its website. IY Resources include: Business Webinars by successful teens, a Knowledge Center, Buy Teen! Business Directory, and college entrepreneurship scholarship information.

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out?
Twitter: @iyouth_org (


What is the best advice you never got?
Starting a social enterprise is very rewarding. It takes focus, persistence, perseverance and a strong belief in your concept. The best advice I can give to someone interested in starting a social enterprise is to be creative. Simple creativity has helped Independent Youth gain greater visibility at such an early stage.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?
When I began Independent Youth I had to learn how to let go a bit more. Delegation and using outside resources are important when pushing forward the mission of the organization. This is important for a number of reasons. With an array of responsibilities and only 24 hours in the day, burn-out can become a real issue, hindering the growth of the organization.

What can you tell other potential social entrepreneurs who are deciding to make a difference?
I would say just go for it! So often, people go through their life with great ideas which they do not pursue due to a fear of failure. If you’re passionate about a social issue that needs to be addressed, do your research, create a concept and implement it. Social Entrepreneurship is not easy, but in the end it can be one of the most rewarding accomplishments of your life.

Authors / Interviewee name:
Tanya Hamilton

Social venture or company name:
Independent Youth Inc.

Website link:

Email Address:
thamilton at

(877) 617-0494


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