MEMPHIS, Tennessee — One Memphis organization is helping to support the business ventures of minority youth in the city. Amanda Simpson was in sixth grade when she started her own business.
“I know how hard it is for beginning entrepreneurs to get the simple things they need to run a business,” said Simpson.
Her company, Design Me, is a graphic designing studio that creates affordable and high-quality products and merchandise for beginning entrepreneurs.
“I’ve always had a passion for the graphic design industry,” said the business owner. “I know in elementary school I was very passionate about projects.”
The 14-year-old, who attends Overton High School, said Design Me provides logos, uniforms, and business cards for people to promote and brand their businesses.
“LITE really helped me dig into more of my business and it helped me think of types of aspects that I usually wouldn’t think of. It helped me not only grow my business it also helped me strengthen it,” Simpson said.
Simpson is part of LITE Memphis, which works to equip African American and Latinx students with the skills to create wealth. Simpson said the mentors helped her with resources and to grow as an entrepreneur.
“By teaching a student to be an entrepreneur, we know that studies have shown that an entrepreneur in a family is 12 times as likely to gain wealth as someone who is not,” said Lakethia Glenn, the executive director of LITE. “So our hope is that it’s a generational impact.”
Glenn said the organization works with about 2,000 students each year. The program runs for 16 weeks alongside the school year.
“If you need some inspiration just look no further than our students, because these students are the most driven young people I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” Glenn said.
Simpson’s advice to other young entrepreneurs? Don't give up.
”It’s been many times where I’ve just wanted to stop my business and I just wanted to not do it anymore,” said the high schooler. “I just wanted to be normal, I guess you could say and just live a regular teenage life. I would say find people around you that could encourage you.”
LITE Memphis will hold its pitch night this Thursday. Audience members will help in selecting thousands of dollars in additional funds for student ideas, and winners are announced live.