New program seeks to empower young women through entrepreneurship
By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON Union Leader Correspondent
Amy LaBelle, founder of LaBelle Winery in Amherst, speaks Monday during a free workshop titled, “Empowering Angels: Empowerment through Entrepreneurship.” (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)
AMHERST — A local business owner is empowering young women to think like entrepreneurs, and is piloting a new program that will expose females to the world of business.
“I want these girls to have the option of creating their own business — if that is a career path they wish to take,” said Amy LaBelle, founder of LaBelle Winery in Amherst. “This program is aimed to ensure that business ownership doesn’t feel foreign or far away, but rather tangible and real.”
LaBelle is leading a two-day workshop for girls ages 11 to 13 titled, “Empowering Angels: Empowerment through Entrepreneurship.”
Thirty-five students with Girls Inc. of New Hampshire are participating in the workshop, which kicked off Monday at the local winery’s event center. Several female professionals are serving as mentors throughout the two-day event, including numerous representatives from Southern New Hampshire University.
Throughout the program, the girls will learn sales and marketing skills, business development and how to create a business plan that will succeed, according to LaBelle, who is hopeful that the program will thrive and expand.
“I hope we are changing lives today,” she said on Monday at the start of the workshop.
Topics such as how to pitch products, learning about the financial aspects of opening and running a business, different business models and creating a business to solve a problem are just a few of the issues being studied.
LaBelle said it is important to provide young girls with meaningful information, skills and ideas for starting a business — in a format that is free, fun and positive.
“I think this is a good opportunity to find out more about starting a business,” said Selena O’Brien, 12, of Nashua. “This will help me decide if it is something I want to do in the future.”
AnnMarie Govostes, 12, of Nashua, said she is hoping to learn how to form a business that will someday help the community.
“This is definitely teaching me new things about having a job, working with people and the importance of finding something to sell that others will like,” said Govostes.
Kristin Hardwick, a photographer from Wilton, created her own photography business about four years ago; she now has her own studio and an assistant.
“You don’t ever want to tie your business worth to your own worth as a person,” said Hardwick, adding it is crucial to find employees who are smart and can assist in areas where the business owner may lack knowledge.
LaBelle agreed, reminding the girls that business owners are not always men, nor do they all come from wealthy families.
“You don’t have to be Donald Trump to be a business owner,” she stressed.
Carrie Colbert, founder of Doctor Colbert Consulting, said that about 90 percent of new businesses fail within the first two years because they do not have a definitive plan in place.
“Business planning is like a map — a formal statement of business goals and plans for reaching them,” said Colbert, emphasizing the need to identify customers, determine where those customers are located and find out how much they are willing to pay for a select product.
By the end of the two-day session, the girls from Girls Inc. of New Hampshire — including participants from Manchester, Nashua and Concord — will have pitched a business idea and a brief business plan to the organizers of the event.