skysthelimit.org is the digital platform of Youth Business USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Oakland, CA. Our organization’s roots are in international work, supporting unemployed young adults to build businesses in North Africa during the Arab Spring.
In 2014, co-founder Bo Ghirardelli moved from Morocco back to his hometown of Oakland, CA to launch Youth Business USA’s local pilot program to support underrepresented young entrepreneurs in the SF Bay Area. Within a short period, thousands of young entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities around the country had applied to get support. Co-founder Nicolas Cary’s deep experience building highly successful technology companies, like Blockchain, led to the idea to build a digital platform to scale their ability to support entrepreneurs nationwide. Through a transformational partnership with Accenture, skysthelimit.org was born. Using the on-the-ground experiences of working with hundreds of diverse young entrepreneurs to inform the platform’s design, the skysthelimit.org team wants to create a pathway to business ownership for millions of aspiring young people while providing a meaningful volunteer opportunity to millions of business women and men.
YOUTH UNDEREMPLOYMENT CRISIS
SKY’S THE LIMIT was launched in response to a crisis of opportunity in the United States. This decade has seen the highest youth unemployment rate since World War Two. The youth unemployment crisis and structural inequities in our socio-economic system have resulted in a lack of economic opportunity for millions of young adults.
Even when hard working young people do find jobs, many are low-income, dead-end ones. Careers and a living wage end up perpetually out of grasp. We don’t just need more jobs, but better ones, to gainfully employ the 80+ million young adults entering or already in the workforce.
According to the ILO, over 50% of young adults who are employed have only temporary or part-time work. The youth unemployment crisis takes a devastating toll on our society. According to the White House Council, America’s unemployed youth will cost an estimated $4.7 trillion over their lifetimes in lost revenue, welfare, crime and health care expenditures.
When more young entrepreneurs in our communities achieve their business goals, great things happen. Their new businesses create assets for themselves and good jobs for others. Their products and services clothe, house, transport, clean, and feed us all. They build and shape the very fabric of our communities.
The skysthelimit.org community has a special focus on serving young entrepreneurs ages 18 to 29 who face significant barriers to business ownership.
Our entrepreneurs come from diverse backgrounds and are working hard to make their business ideas a reality — whether they want to be their own boss, invent something new, make money, or make a difference in the world. They are building all kinds of businesses — from clothing lines to catering companies, food trucks to consulting companies, hair stylists to mechanics, entertainment artists to graphic designers.
Whether or not they’ve gone to college, whether or not they have to work other jobs on the side — all of our entrepreneurs are chasing their dreams.
SKY’S THE LIMIT
We launched SKY’S THE LIMIT because we believe that the key to empowering our aspiring entrepreneurs is to provide them with the right support, from the right people, at the right time in their entrepreneurial journey.
HOW WE HELP
THE RIGHT SUPPORT
Classroom-based or online training is a one-size-fits-all approach that fails many learners. That’s why our support is one-on-one, and uses a structured, tested entrepreneurship methodology to help our entrepreneurs achieve their business goals.
THE RIGHT PEOPLE
We leverage experienced professionals as business advisors and mentors to deliver this personalized support. Our volunteer advisors and mentors have diverse backgrounds and strong skills — some run small businesses, others work with global corporations.
THE RIGHT TIME
Using a digital platform, we quickly match our young entrepreneurs with the right advisors and mentors to help them solve their most pressing problems. When our entrepreneurs are ready, we also help them find the right funding sources for their business .
This combination of support leads to young entrepreneurs developing new skills, broadening their network, accessing the right resources — and ultimately achieving their business goals.
Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs Trained
If you’re a young, aspiring business owner, we want to help you find your path and build the right business.
We know that starting a business isn’t easy. We’ve been in your shoes — we’re serial entrepreneurs. It takes lots of hard work and persistence. You’re constantly overcoming obstacles. But we understand that sometimes you just HAVE to act on your dreams.
If you’re an experienced professional who had help getting to where you are now, you can pay it forward.
When you share your time and talents with our young entrepreneurs, you’re helping make dreams — and new businesses — a reality. Let’s level the playing field in entrepreneurship together.