GIRLS’BIZ, a Madison-area community program that empowers middle school girls to start and run their own business and spend the profits from that business on a group trip and a contribution to charity, used the money they made this year from their entrepreneurship to donate $500 to F.O.S.T.E.R of Dane County.
“What I really like about the GIRLS’BIZ program is that it gives girls who might know much about business the opportunity to be an entrepreneur and how to be a philanthropist even. I didn’t even know that word until I started GIRLS’BIZ,” Jaia Davis says, laughing. Jaia is an 8th grader at Sennett Middle School and has been in GIRLS’BIZ for three years. “It teaches you different values of being a business owner and how to run a business with other people. So you get community skills as well as business skills.”
Every year, GIRLS’BIZ raises money for a charity and a non-profit and makes a big donation. Whatever is left over is split amongst the girls in the group. Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs has sponsored the GIRLS’BIZ program since 1996.
For 2020-2021, the program went virtual with an online store. The six girls who participated in the program chose the name “The Fireflies” and developed their logo and chose their products to sell.
“We sold products that we got from wholesale companies like Equal Exchange chocolate and cocoa, Wisconsin Candle Company candles and mask bling – decorative stuff that people can put on their [COVID-19] masks. We also sold cards that we made last year and dog treats,” Jaia says.
With the help of experienced women business owners, they learned about selling online and participated in Zoom sales presentations with Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs , Zonta and American Association of University Women. The orders were assembled at Fired-Up Pottery on Monona Drive. The Fireflies ended up making a profit of about $1,100.
The girls did a lot of research before they decided who to make their charitable donation to.
“We all had ideas for what charity we wanted to give to and we ended up voting and selecting F.O.S.T.E.R.,” Jaia says. “We really liked that they helped marginalized communities and helped people with food and held events to give people school supplies and haircuts. It was a fun thing to be able to give back to others.”
F.O.S.T.E.R. (Families Overcoming Struggles To Encourage Restoration) is a wraparound case management program that seeks to address the needs of families, single-parent households, those at risk of involvement in the foster care system, and/or parent(s) of those who have been incarcerated.
“My heart was so happy and I was humbled to learn that these amazing young entrepreneurs researched and then chose F.O.S.T.E.R. as their choice to make their donation,” Jackie Hunt, founder and CEO of F.O.S.T.E.R. of Dane County, tells Madison365. “As I reflect back to what I was doing at their age, I’m filled with humility and it encourages my heart to continue to do what I do, and to continue to shine bright cause the youngins are watching!”
The girls raised $1,100 total so the remaining $600 profit was split six ways between the girls, as it is every year. Each member of the Fireflies will receive a profit share of $100.
GIRLS’BIZ is open to all middle school girls in Dane County and a new group forms each September.
For more information about GIRLS’BIZ, click here.