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HR Professionals Helping Underprivileged Youth

Post by Edward Vanhoutte, Balance HR

"It's like a jungle sometimes. It makes me wonder how I keep from going under." - Grandmaster Flash

Once upon a time in The Bronx

1981, New York City. The youngsters are playing hip-hop, the music from a rising subcultural movement born in the streets of The Bronx.  

At the same time and place a man called Steve Mariotti was robbed by a group of kids for a few dollars.

This isolating incident was the trigger to alter his life goal of being a successful businessman. He became determined to help youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, so that they would not have to resort to such methods of getting money.

With this idea in mind, he made a major career change. He left his business career to become a high school teacher in notoriously "bad" neighborhoods.

Frustrated at first by his rowdy classrooms, Mariotti discovered he could reach and motivate even his most challenging students by teaching them how to run a small business. This experience inspired him to create the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) in 1987. 

Yes you can teach entrepreneurship

Fast forward to 2016. More people listen to hip-hop than any other musical genre in the world, according to a Spotify analysis.

In the meantime NFTE is active across the globe and continues to expand. In Belgium, they operate under the label YouthStart.

YouthStart inspires underprivileged young people towards entrepreneurship, via an eight-day training program of which social business is a fundamental part.

They share with Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus the belief in the positive societal impact of educating entrepreneurship and social business. This belief is supported by evidence

Work in progress

YouthStart dreams of a follow-up path after the training courses, to further develop the entrepreneurial mind- and skillset of their alumni.

A team of enthusiastic HR professionals aims to turn this dream into reality. WisKeys (HR knowledge platform) and Balance HR (sharing freelance HR network) are bundling the forces to help YouthStart.

We are shaping the plans to set up a community, consisting out of students who have taken the course and mentors who can guide them afterwards. You can read more about the initiative via this previous blogpost.

Wish to join us?

Interested to join the club, and accompany young people as a mentor? Feel free to drop us a note via edward@balancehr.be.

Not convinced yet? Read here why volunteering and mentoring are good for you ;-)

Warm regards & stay tuned!


PS. Special thanks to all participants, to Katleen Weytjens and Mieke De Jaegher from WisKeys and to Peter Geeroms, John Hermans and Anouck Vanhollebeke from YouthStart.


Mariotti, S. (2015). “An Entrepreneur’s Manifesto”. Templeton Press. Find the summary here

Kickul, J. et al. (2012). "Social Business Education: An Interview With Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus", Academy of Management Learning & Education, 11(3), 453-462. Find the original article here.

Greene, P. & Shepherd, D. (2013). "Yes You Can Teach Entrepreneurship", Academy of Management Publications. Find the summary here.

Jenkinson, C. et al. (2013). "Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers.", BMC Public Health. Find the original article here.

Ghosh, R., & Reio, T. G. (2013). “Career benefits associated with mentoring for mentors: A meta-analysis”. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83(1), 106-116. Find the original article here.

Pictures of the event at YouthStart in September 

Pictures by Alexandra Bertels. Click on largest picture for right size.

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