Profiled Youth Leader
Anna Ouroumian

"This Is Not About Charity"

Selected excerpts from an August 21, 2000 article in Forbes magazine written originally by Ann Marsh

At age 17 she (Anna Ouroumian) arrived alone in the U.S. Five years later she graduated at the top of her class at UCLA and detoured into philanthropy; one day she aims to get a Harvard M.B.A. and pursue a career in business.

Ouroumian runs the nonprofit Academy of Business Leadership (ABL), a tiny charity that drills into kids the notion that they can create their own wealth. "I tell you guys, I know I'm going to be very rich one day." she exults, throwing her arms out wide. "Maybe someday we can do business together."

Over a seven-week summer session, the youngsters break into groups and write 50-page business plans for their dream companiesŠ They visit Los Angeles companies and hear success stories from executives who came from nothing, and those who came from privilegeŠ Some get mentors and internships.

ABL was formed in 1992 by an executive at Southern California Edison and in 1998 Anna Ouroumian was hired to revive the tiny charity (full time staff: three). It had run up a $40,000 defecit, and even its own board worried it wouldn't survive. Since then she has doubled annual fundraising to $700,000, tripled student enrollment to 329 and added a year-round mentoring program. Six college campuses participate, up from just two. Her salary has risen from $45,000 to $64,000.

Anna Ouroumian can empathize. When she was growing up in Beirut. "None of us could see a future for ourselves," she says. Her first orphanage had no electricity or running water. in grade school she moved to an orphanage on the battle line dividing warring Christians and Muslims. The kids slept in empty theater that also served as a makeshift hospitalŠ

Note: this profile is of a young Armenian who was willing and able to take control of her life. Her attitudes and approaches should be used as a role model for those youth and adults who wish to make a change in their own lives and in the lives of members of their community. Her accomplishments show the importance of education, ambition, and belief.

To read the complete story from Forbes magazine click here.

Other resources for Young Entrepreneurs

Young Entrepreneurs Organization
- A global non-profit educational organization for young entrepreneurs

The Entrepreneur Network - Information and counsel for startups, "grass roots" attitude - Starting a business? They have many of the resources you may need- from home office supplies for starting your own small business to financincing and marketing that business

Wise Counsel - Online resources for Christian entrepreneurs

Accel Partners - a Venture Capital Fund focusing on Internet/Intranet and Communications startups with some online resources