Summer Camp Teaches Teens Ingenuity, Enterprise, Integrity - Black Enterprise

Summer Camp Teaches Teens Ingenuity, Enterprise, Integrity


Many high school students plan their summer vacations around what malls, beaches, and amusement parks they plan to visit.

But thanks to Brian Jenkins, some 450 teens across the nation will get the chance to maximize their business capital when they apply to compete at the 2009 Entrenuity Summer Business Camp at Wheaton College in Illinois this summer.

In 1999, at age 30, Jenkins created Entrenuity, a not-for-profit youth entrepreneurship organization, based on his desire to apply his Christian faith to business principles. Through his Creating True Wealth curriculum, which has been used worldwide, students learn how greed, corruption, and inappropriate marketplace behaviors threaten business operations.

In an interview with, Jenkins describes his experiences advising start-up businesses and explains why integrity is essential to success. What inspired you to start Entrenuity?

Brian Jenkins: My desire is to make a tangible impact in America’s challenged urban environment with skill-based training that teaches students to start and operate businesses with character and integrity. I am excited about successfully teaching students the fundamentals of business operations. My goal is to encourage them to go beyond their own expectations.

What does Summer Entrenuity Business Camp offer to students?

Entrenuity picks 50 African American and Latino high school students to learn the fundamentals of creating a business and an operational plan in teams. The camp is one week long. Each student earns a $500 stipend. Two students, one male and one female, each receive the Hazel A. King Entrepreneurial Leadership Award in which they get a notebook computer, printer, and software. Students are exposed to developing a [Christian] perspective on their marketplace commitments by applying truths such as treating your customer as you desire to be treated.

Speaking of treating others how you want to be treated, how important is networking and establishing good relationships in business?

If you are seeking capital, seek to develop relationships. Entrenuity “earned” a key relationship with The Soderquist Family Foundation (SFF), which was started and operated by Don Soderquist, the former COO for Walmart. Both SFF and Entrenuity are values-driven organizations with Christian principles serving as the nucleolus of both organizations. As a result of our shared interests, over the past few years, SFF has made considerable charitable contributions to Entrenuity and we have delivered.

For so long you’ve instructed youth about entrepreneurship, but now you own your first for-profit venture. Why did you start Speed Alley Racing?

Speed Alley Racing was born from my wife’s and my desire to seek a fun and unique birthday party option for our son. Speed Alley is a 2,000-square-foot model car and slot car racing facility located in Westmont, Illinois. It is a fun, unique, and a competitive racing experience.

What lessons did you learn when you started Speed Alley?

Unfortunately, I was forced to remove my former business partner at Speed Alley from all aspects of operations because he was trying to take control of the business. I was able to survive because I owned 51% of the business, and I maintained my character through the entire process. The lesson I learned: It is best to start a business partnership with someone who has demonstrated shared values over a period of time.