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New group aims to help youth realize dreams

Everyone complains about the lack of jobs in the current economy, but three people with ties to Clackamas County are actually proposing to do something about it.

Calling “Business Incubator for Kid Entrepreneurs” his “brainchild,” Ed Bejarana said BIKE was created in reaction to the struggles kids have these days in finding work.  

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Pictured from left are BIKE board members John Sciarra and Reynette Reuter and founder Ed Bejarana. The three are hoping to attract teen entrepreneurs to a series of classes.“We are going to need an army of volunteers and mentors” to make it work, he said, but, ultimately, the program will provide teens with the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills and succeed on their own.

Starting in January 2014, Bejarana and a few others will teach a class that meets once a week. Students will meet individually with a mentor, before listening to a one-hour lecture. Each session will close with a keynote address from a successful business professional.

Students will pay a $75 or $100 registration cost that is 75 percent refundable when they complete the program. There will be scholarship assistance, but the board feels there should be at least a nominal contribution from students so they have some “skin in the game,” Bejarana said.

In May, at the end of the series of classes, students will present their business plans to a roomful of adults.

“The board of trustees will pick the ones that should be funded. Each young person will be allowed to take a reasonable salary from starting their own business, but the rest of the funds will go into a 529 plan for their education. We have a financial planner and certified CPA on the board. I’ve worked really hard to put together a board of highly trained professionals,” Bejarana said.

Board members enlisted

Bejarana is a marketing and trade-show display consultant who also is a business-website builder. He is a certified instructor who taught engineering technology, mechanical drafting and computer-aided design classes at a community college in California.

Bejarana knew he had come up with a good idea to help young people, but he also realized he could not do this alone, so one of the first things he did was form a board.

Two local people, Reynette Reuter and John Sciarra, both said they jumped at the chance to be part of BIKE.

A Clackamas resident, Reuter is assistant vice president for Heffernan Insurance Brokers; Sciarra, an Oregon City resident, has his own junk removal and clean-out business. He also is operations manager at Bernard’s Garage Inc. in Milwaukie.

“I have networked with Ed and John in Clackamas, and this is something I wanted to be a part of — it will be a wonderful experience for kids,” Reuter said.

“Growing up, it was hard for me, because there was no one there to help me. Kids need to learn how to balance a checkbook and how to put a business plan together. This will give them that opportunity. BIKE will be a great success for them,” she said.

“I’ve held a salaried, management position ever since I was 21. I don’t see that these days, and that bothers me. That is why I wanted to be part of this,” Sciarra said.

“With my work ethic at the garage and my own personal business, Ed said I would be a good fit, and I wanted to help him kick this off. It takes many talents to build a bridge, and it is all about finding the right resources and the right talents.”

Helping young people

Bejarana, Reuter and Sciarra each had their own reasons for wanting to be part of BIKE.

Bejarana said that public schools are simply not teaching the entrepreneurial skills that students need to go out into the community to work, and there are too many laws restricting young people.

“BIKE will not just teach young people book knowledge, but give them the ability to tap into their dreams. They will write a business plan, get it funded, and get a summer job,” Bejarana said.

“Not every business is going to succeed, but this will let them fail in a safe environment. At the very least they will come out of this the best employee any employer ever had,” he added.

“This will give them more confidence. It will teach them how to balance a checkbook, how to save. They will figure out what it is they want to do and what it will take to meet their goals,” Reuter said.

“BIKE will teach young people the fundamentals of business, and they can then build on that themselves. They will be more productive, and they can invest in their education,” Sciarra said.

Bejarana said he has read that people will change jobs 18 times in their lifetimes, and his hope is that BIKE will empower young people so that they can take life head-on and succeed.

He is hoping to attract young people with dreams of owning their own businesses, and he also is seeking mentors to match to each student, a sort of “big brother-big sister program on steroids.”

He emphasized that there will be a background-check process for adults who wish to be part of the program, but he hopes there will be plenty of volunteers who want to help young people meet their dreams.

“I hope this idea gets stolen and used in every metro area,” Bejarana said.

A BIKE fund-raising event will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. Contact Ed Bejarana at 503-328-9525 or visit bikepdx.me for more information.



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