For the past two years, I have been working with teenagers at Girls Incorporated. Girls Inc. is a non-profit organization with a mission to encourage all girls to be strong, smart, and bold in everything they do. We offer them a safe place to explore their interests and talents. This has been an extremely rewarding experience and I truly cherish my time spent with “my girls.” We have explored many subjects, from dissecting a cow’s heart to learning about the HERstory of powerful women. One subject that I have found must fulfilling is teaching “my girls” about business and finance. I have worked with them to create their own small business plans, learn about budgets, and even make trades on a mock stock market. This isn’t always an easy task, because of peer pressure and social norms, most teenage girls aren’t thinking about owning their own business or how they will invest their money. However, I think it is very important to introduce them to these ideas. Teaching a young girl that she is capable of anything she sets her mind to is helping build her confidence. We all know confidence isn’t an easy thing to come by at 14-15 years old, so the more the better!
One of my more dedicated girls has really showed an interest in the stock market. At first she would barely listen to me as I went on about interest and equity, but I was perfectly happy to break things down over and over again to help her understand. Then one day I saw “the light bulb.” She suddenly began asking more questions and wanted to look into buying shares of companies that she used in her everyday life. I let the girls make their own investment decisions and then they can watch their portfolios grow. (This is all part of a mock stock market, no actual trades were made. However, it is in real time so the highs and lows are live.) This one company she chose wasn’t doing so well and I was proud of her for looking into it and not being afraid to sell when she thought the time was right. She was investigating this business and learning more about the risk involved in the stock market. This is an invaluable lesson and one she will not soon forget.
Although “my girls” are not walking away from this project financially wealthier, they are walking away with a basic understanding of investments. Most adults don’t fully understand the stock market, but now “my girls” can teach them a thing or two! Maybe someday they will make the choice to invest in themselves and start their own business with UndercoverWear!