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Local 10.com features the National Foundation for Teaching

Some South Florida Schools Help Train Future Entrepreneurs

MIAMI -- According to business experts, entrepreneurship is the heart of the U.S. economy. There are nearly 26 million companies in the U.S. and about 97 percent have fewer than 20 employees.

That's why some South Florida schools have recognized the need to teach students how to become entrepreneurs. Michael Perez, 15, is a sophomore at John A. Ferguson Senior High in Kendall. He is also the president of Tail Times, a business he created through the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship or NFTE.

"This is my business, Tail Times. It is a doggie day care service run out of my home," said Perez.  Executive director of NFTE, Alice Horn, said South Florida has been part of the program for a year and already 2,500 students and 28 schools are involved.

"South Florida is a hotbed of entrepreneurship. Every child learns how to recognize an opportunity that is exciting and motivating to that child," said Horn.

"Since I started the program I've learned about target markets, who you're trying to sell your products to, loans, how would you get a loan, plus business plans," said student Sean Sierra.

At 15, Sierra, a sophomore at Coral Gables Senior High, is also an entrepreneur. He invented a product to keep his mother from cutting her finger while curling ribbons. "It's just this little wooden box you never touch the razor at all," said Sierra. Eddy Bayardelle, president of The Merrill Lynch Foundation, said the program inspires creativity. "The whole idea is that we want to expose kids to new ideas, new role models and new places, so that learning takes place everywhere not just in the classroom," said Bayardelle. Students learn every aspect of managing a company like Perez who was named 2007 Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

"Both my parents are entrepreneurs so they're kind of like my inspiration," said Perez.

They also learn how to build a non-profit organization from the ground up. "I had this idea to have an art therapy session." said student Andrea Martines. The 16-year old junior from Coral Gables Senior High envisioned an art program that would help abused teens that is now a reality.

"I think it's amazing that we get this opportunity so young in life," said Martines.

To learn if your school qualifies to be part of The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepeneurship visit www.nfte.com.

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