Youths who lack a paternal figure are susceptible to joining themselves to groups that provide them with a feeling of identity, empowerment and belonging. Unfortunately, these groups are often not good or productive ones. Street gangs target such vulnerable youths for membership, offering them identity, power, unity, excitement and the prospect of money.
But the void of a family structure in a youth’s life can be filled by another structure that also lends to excitement, power, purpose and money. Capitalism and entrepreneurship can be an enticing substitute for crime and gang membership for young people.
From the “showy” rap videos to the glam of Hollywood, to popular-culture shows such as Shark Tank, entrepreneurship can offer youths a seductive answer to a family-void or community-disconnect, while providing the same prospects of money and power used by gangs to entice disassociated or susceptible youths. Entrepreneurship offers creativity, competition, and excitement. Businesses with people working together toward a common goal provide a sense of meaning, purpose and structure. Further, the competitive nature of gang membership can be supplanted by the competitive nature of business, requiring the tools of creativity, intelligence and inner fortitude.
Successful entrepreneurs and other accomplished businessmen should take the time to reach out to at-risk youths in their communities and expose such youths to the world of business and entrepreneurship. Businessmen in communities across the country should develop strategies and make efforts to reach out to youths of all ages in their communities who lack a paternal figure, and expose them to the concepts of entrepreneurship and capitalism to encourage such youths to avoid the dead-end offered by the gang colors “blue” and “red” in exchange for the empowerment and endless possibilities offered by the color “green” – the color of money.