Eleven area middle school girls of the Believe Co., members of GIRLS’BIZ 2016-2017 program, used $1,000 of their profit as entrepreneurs to give a big check to Project Respect, a local non-profit that assists victims of human trafficking in our community, at the Breakwater Restaurant in Monona last night.

GIRLS’BIZ is 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. The girls meet on Tuesday evenings during the academic year.

“At the end of their program year, each member of GIRLS’BIZ researches and presents a charity for consideration by the group. This year, the girls were concerned about human trafficking in our community,” GIRLS’BIZ Program Director Sally Hestad tells Madison365. “They chose Project Respect, a local program of Arc Community Services, which assists victims of human trafficking and sexual assault, and women involved in prostitution who want to make positive changes in their lives.”

The check was presented to Project Respect’s Annette Sallay at the girls’ graduation ceremony last night. Sponsored by Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs Southcentral Chapter, GIRLS’BIZ has been teaching entrepreneurship and philanthropy to eager and bright middle school girls for over 20 years.
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The GIRLS’BIZ girls were elated to have made such a difference.
“I learned how to make money and help others in GIRLS’BIZ,” says middle-schooler Awa Phatty.
“I learned that we needed to collaborate to be successful,” adds Believe Co. team member Isatou Touray.
“GIRLS’BIZ is a very good experience that teaches you about business and making new friends,” says Jaila Hassell.

The girls will use the rest of their profit for a group activity/party and each will receive a cash profit share to close out the year for the Believe Co.

“Project Respect is involved in educating the community, government officials and law enforcement about how to help these victims,” Hestad says. “The girls learned about the power of money to do good as they saw that their $1,000 will really make a difference in what this local program can accomplish.”

This year, GIRLS’BIZ has been celebrating 21 years of molding the next generation of Madison’s entrepreneurs and philanthropists with a new group of Madison-area young women. The program is sponsored by Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs and the Foundation for WWE, Inc. Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs are an organization of women entrepreneurs, business owners and service providers in south-central Wisconsin who offer an inspiring mix of networking, support, and business education at multiple meetings in Madison each month. Its members come from a variety of industries and backgrounds to share experiences and resources in a collaborative environment.

Each year, the girls in GIRLS’BIZ choose a new company name and work with a designer on their logo. They create a product survey, learn to network and then administer their survey at a Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs meeting. GIRLS’ BIZ is currently looking for more girls who would enjoy working in a group to start a new company next September. For more information about GIRLS’BIZ, click here.