Herald Photo / Provided
ENTREPRENEURSHIP  — Girls in Kokomo Urban Outreach’s StepUP for Girls program decorate flip flops for their micro-business.
Herald Photo / Provided ENTREPRENEURSHIP — Girls in Kokomo Urban Outreach’s StepUP for Girls program decorate flip flops for their micro-business.
Kokomo Urban Outreach’s StepUP for Girls program is helping prepare young women to enter the field of business and address real-world obstacles.

The recently-implemented program is providing mentorship to the young ladies and teaching them the ins and outs of being entrepreneurs. 

“Participants in our mentorship and coaching programs know that they have our support through both the good and bad times,” said Jeff Newton, executive director of KUO. “Students leave the program as business owners with greater self-esteem; they are learning about things like profit and loss, marketing, advertising, and along the way they receive one-to-one feedback and guidance to ensure personal and professional achievement.”

StepUP for Girls is modeled after KUO’s StepUP program, which helps young adults develop and launch their own micro-enterprises, and local business owners will loan up to $500 for startup expenses. KUO also offers a mentorship program for young men called ManUP.

“Some students are interested in website design; others are interested in more craft-centered businesses. Everything we do is really a team effort. We work together to make ideas a reality,” said Newton about the projects being developed and the work ethic at KUO.

KUO’s various programs equip participants with the knowledge and understanding to be their own bosses. For example, a previous participant in StepUP took what she learned at KUO, moved to Florida, launched her own wedding gown manufacturing and sales service, and continues to operate within the profit margin.

Newton urged anyone who’s interested in starting a business to get started as soon as possible. He provided a few words of wisdom.

“You have to have a plan. You have to be able to project the future, know the needs of the community, and try to understand the market in order to provide a valuable product or service,” said Newton.

Kokomo needed an organization that could help individuals create a positive self-narrative, he said, adding that Kokomo needed an organization that could help individuals make a living and stand more firmly on their own to feet. That’s how KUO came to exist.

“We call ourselves story-changers. Everywhere we go we try to help people change their own stories. We just listen, and we interact with our neighbors,” said Newton.

KUO hosts community dinners every Sunday night and offers a job club to help people find employment. KUO plans to continue building upon its programs based on the needs of the community.

“Thanks to the community for all the support because without them we could not be doing what we are doing,” said Newton

KUO is located at 1701 S. Locke St. Find out more information about the organization’s programs and activities at www.kokomourbanoutreach.org.