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Shreveport Bizcamp gives teens a 'mini MBA'

Kate Archer Kent

Dozens of Shreveport-area teenagers have spent the past two weeks in a "mini MBA" program that shows them the ropes on how to launch a business. Louisiana legislator Roy Burrell is also managing director of the Inner City Entrepreneur Institute. Its summer Bizcamp will culminate Thursday, June 27, as the students host a marketplace at the Louisiana Boardwalk shopping complex in Bossier City.

Burrell never thought Bizcamp would be his pet project for the past 13 years. He raises all the money for it and believes in the concept. When he was 13, his father picked him -- out of all 14 children -- to be in charge of the family-run grocery store.

“When I was supposed to be getting toys from Santa Claus, I was actually closing the store, doing credit, doing markups, just running the business," Burrell said, as he broke away from supervising Bizcamp activities at Centenary College's Kilpatrick Auditorium.

Ashley Green, 19, of Keithville went through Bizcamp in 2007. She’s returned as a volunteer. The Louisiana Tech University chemical engineering major said Bizcamp changed her personality.

“Bizcamp really brought me out of my shell. I was very shy. It taught me to project -- to get my ideas out there," Green said.

Burrell said despite their young age the students catch on to universal business concepts. The curriculum, he said, is a hands-on approach to the free enterprise system.

"If you are going to do business, you do business with anybody who has something that you want," Burrell said. "You learn to communicate with each other, regardless of what age it is, or regardless of what color you are."

The marketplace will be held Thursday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Louisiana Boardwalk. Campers will be advertising and selling a variety of products based on the type of business they created.