Pequeños Empresarios Workshop: Madera non-profit focuses on inspiring kids

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Every weekend, Leanor Hipolito gathers with teenagers in Madera to teach them the basics of business. The program is called Pequeños Empresarios, or Young Entrepreneurs in English.

It started in her backyard 12 years ago and a decade later, hundreds of former students count themselves as graduates of the program.

Leonor Hipolito is the Founder of Pequeños Empresarios, she says some former students are business owners.

Jessica Melgoza with Public Relations for Pequeños Empresarios reinstates what Leonor says, "So we are following the steps of those kids we have had with us in the past. She is saying we have kids that came into our program who are now business owners."

Leonor and Jessica tell Action News they hope to see similar programs that value integrity, etiquette and business leadership across the nation, but for now, they are impacting the lives of local teens.

Jose Rojas Mendoza is a high school sophomore. He travels over two hours every weekend from Salinas to Madera to take part in the program.

Although he has already received his certificate of completion, he keeps coming back as a volunteer in hopes that students can grow the way he has.

Jose says the program has allowed him to put aside any doubt he has about his future.

"It helps a lot with personal growth, which is always necessary for growth in your career, and it also helps me with being confident enough because I want to start my own pharmaceutical company," he said.

Yesenia Hipolito is Leonor's daughter, and helps her run the program. She tells Action News she has found fulfillment in Pequeños Empresarios.

As a lifestyle, beauty, and fashion influencer, Yesenia hopes she can spread positivity to her 300,000-plus followers, along with the young people in her hometown of Madera.

Yesenia is the co-founder of the program, she says one of the most memorable moments has been, "To see the kids, to see the turnout, it just absolutely fills my heart and makes me so incredibly proud of my mom and all the work that she's done, and all the volunteers have done and the children have done."

Pequeños Empresarios says they wouldn't be where they are without the community's support. Local Madera businesses have stepped up throughout the pandemic with monetary donations to help keep the program alive. Both Jessica and Leonor say they will continue to be thankful for them "because without them, this wouldn't be possible."

Leonor says she hopes this community effort to keep young students positive and motivated will continue for years to come.

If you or someone you know is interested in taking advantage of this free workshop, Pequeños Empresarios will take new students ages 12 to 17 for their upcoming workshop. You can visit their webpage here and use this link to email Leonor.
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