New program aims to help students seeking to start their own business

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Like all high school seniors, students at Belmont Charter High School in West Philadelphia have many questions surrounding their next steps in life.

So, they've launched a program to help guide seniors who seek to start their own business.

Seniors like Namir Watson and Quion Harris had the chance to participate in a real-life investors pitch, similar to Shark Tank. Including panelists who are local business owners from West Philly's 52nd Street business corridor.

"For me, this is a perfect program because my end goal, in the long run, is to be able to make money by working for myself," said Watson.

This initiative is all a part of the Belmont Charter Network's STRIPES Program that focuses on social entrepreneurship and developing a mindset that will help students turn their passions into careers.

Students shared their ideas to advisers to receive feedback and potentially help fund these plans after graduating and moving on to college or employment opportunities.

"Not every high school you get the opportunity to work with a group like this and be mentored and have fun," said Harris. "You just got to take advantage of it, and that's what we're doing."

Harris and Watson both have aspirations to open a real estate company to develop and rent out housing units for affordable living in the city.

Their mentor Justin Green, who has almost a decade in the real estate industry, says he is grateful to be a part of a program that aims to give back to inner-city youth.

"My passion is teaching. I want to help these young men understand the power of entrepreneurship and ownership at a very young age," said Green, who is the owner and founder of Green Investment Group. "So that way when they do become adults, or if they want to start their own business now, they can do it now."

Watson is working towards his real estate license by the time of his 18th birthday in August. His focus is all on the logistical side of development.

As for Harris, his focus is more hands-on with a concentration on building and construction. He'll be attending Lincoln Tech in September to pursue a trade as an automotive technician.

Together they see the light for their future that's geared towards success through this program.

"For me and my partner, in five years, I'm hoping we can have multiple properties at once. Both generating some type of income," said Watson.
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