Emily Smith is the Co-Founder of Female Strong, an organization that empowers girls ages 12-18 to learn how to succeed in business through Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!).
Female Strong’s YEA! is a six-month after-school program for middle and high school girls that helps cultivate skills and opportunities to become real-life entrepreneurs. They have developed a curriculum that teaches girls how to select, research, vet, develop, and market a business.
Most importantly, the program builds confidence, public speaking abilities, and other skills to help girls find their voice and create the future female leaders of tomorrow.
The program, designed, so each girl gets matched with a mentor from the business community to formulate a business idea – collaborates with them to bring the concept to life.
At the end of the program, 15 CEOs from local companies will award $20,000 to start up the girls’ businesses.
Emily Smith Interview
What is the driving force behind you and your mission with Female Strong and the Young Entrepreneurs Academy?
Emily Smith: To make it better for those coming after me and be a place where girls can see what they can be. 85% of girls believe they will be as successful as boys in their future career at the age of 8 – by the time those same girls reach the age of 19, that number drops to 35%.
When I saw that data, it broke my heart, and I said that this is a crisis we are going to solve and we are going to start today, hence how Female Strong was born.
If we can get to girls at that critical period, we can help change the trajectory, close the gender gap, and solve some of the inequalities as they exist today. The future is Female Strong!
What sets Female Strong apart from other similar organizations?
Emily Smith: Taking the boys out of the room gives girls the space to focus less on perfectionism and tune in more to their voice. We are the only young entrepreneur’s academy in the country that focuses solely on girls with specific intent.
We are a community of entrepreneurs and female leaders looking to make real change. We don’t just talk about concepts, and we are helping girls form real businesses, not just soft skills.
What would be your wish for other social impact entities to achieve in the next decade?
Emily Smith: In the next ten years, we will have supported one million females to achieve everything they set out to. We will have created thousands of budding female entrepreneurs, taught girls how to find their voice, and use it to make real change when they see it.
We will have made a significant impact on closing the gender gap and helped companies meet their DEI initiatives by creating the future female leaders of tomorrow.
What words of encouragement would you give to the next generation that will follow in your footsteps?
Emily Smith: I want you to know for what it’s worth, it’s never too late or too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same.
There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best of it or the worst of it.
I hope you make the best of it.
I hope you see something that startles you.
I hope you feel things you have never felt before.
I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you are proud of. If you find you are not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
Female Strong ® is a 501c3 non-profit organization and a community of committed individuals that offer hands-on programs, mentorship, and experiences that build confidence in middle and high school girls.
We support the inclusion of all girl, trans, gender-fluid and non-binary youth as we help propel them to become future leaders.
By empowering young women with the skills they need early in life, we are equipping them to realize their potential, and preempt the inequities that exist for women in the workplace today.
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