The Junior Entrepreneurs in Training, a Wilmington-based summer camp for fifth- to eighth-grade students, held their annual “Market Day” in Wilmington last week and it was a sellout. 

Self-made products were on display at the Louis L. Redding City County Building through a partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. Wilmington has partnered with JET via Delaware State University the last three years to offer campers space in the city building to sell their products.

T-Bags, arm sleeve cell phone holders, made-from-scratch candles, Jell-O soap, stress balls, decorative frames and utensil holders for pencils and pens were items crafted by the summer camp students in an effort to learn the basics of business; purchasing retail and manufacturing product for profit, said Lillie Crawford, director of the Delaware Center for Enterprise Development at Delaware State University.

“The majority of our students were successfully able to sell out of all of their product,” Crawford said.

The hope is that students will learn that they possess the skills and talents necessary to start and successfully run their own businesses in the near future, she added.

Over the duration of the 10-day camp, students ages 11-14 learned about small business, entrepreneurship and business ownership. Divided into six groups, the program tasked students with starting a small business with just $50 cash. 

Elise Sampson, 13, said for her business venture, she wanted to turn T-shirts into handbags with designs and different styles. Along with her group mates, Sariah Shrouder, 11; Mariah Street, 12; Tyshawn Elzey, 13; and Cameron Taylor 10, the group produced 19 T-bags Friday, selling out within a few hours.

“The program has really helped me come out of my shell and share my creative ideas,” Sampson said.

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Audrey Scott-Hynson calls the youth entrepreneurship program the strongest in the state of Delaware. The enterprise consultant for the Delaware Center for Enterprise Development at Delaware State University believes the program is paramount for youth that lives in the trenches of the city because of the exposure to an institution of higher learning.

“The one thing that I think is critical to the success of the city of Wilmington’s future is to create entrepreneurs today,” she said.

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Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki greets Junior Entrepreneurs in Training Friday. (Photo: Alonzo Small/The News Journal)

There to witness the future entrepreneurs interact with potential customers and sell products was Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki., who applauded the youth entrepreneurship program and the personnel involved.

“These young people have the energy and creativity to achieve and we want to help them do that,” Purzycki said. “This program teaches them how to conduct business, how to assess what people want and need, and whether those needs can be filled through a product or service. We are helping these children learn lessons about business, money management and how to plan for the future, all of which are actually lessons that apply to life.”

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Alfred Lance, deputy director of Mayor’s Office of Economic Development said he and his economic development team have enjoyed the ability to provide a space for youth entrepreneurs to sell their products year after year. The partnership, Lance explains, is beneficial to young people learning the path of business ownership and entrepreneurship at an early age.

“It’s always great seeing the enthusiasm of the young people when they’re talking about their product and trying to make a sale with their constituents and the city employees inside the building.”

For more information on the program, please visit

Contact Alonzo Small at (302) 324-2856 or Follow him on Twitter @P_AlonzoSmall.

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