Christopher, Eric and Kayla stand next to a display of the Taste of Immokalee products at a local supermarket.

Immokalee, Florida,
12
July
2016
|
05:00 PM
America/Chicago

The Taste of Immokalee

Student entrepreneurs are growing their business and their futures!

Taste of Immokalee logoOwning your own successful business is a dream for many. Imagine living that dream as a teenager. Students from the small town of Immokalee, Florida are doing just that.

Taste of Immokalee sauce and salsa is giving Immokalee High School (IHS) students hands-on entrepreneurial experiences. The innovative educational program is also helping send them to college.

The local community development organization, One by One Leadership Foundation, in partnership with Taste of Immokalee provides instruction and direction. IHS students started the business in 2014 with help from a State Farm Youth Advisory Board grant.

Students get real life entrepreneurial experience thanks to the program. Their businesses and consumer interactions increase their knowledge of entrepreneurship while growing interpersonal skills.

“The students are involved in all aspects of the brand, from production to sales and marketing,” says Marie Capita, One Leadership Foundation’s Executive Director for Taste of Immokalee. “Through entrepreneurship classes, students learned how to operate the company. They solicit potential buyers and make presentations to prospective clients. They go into markets to promote the products.”

The students creatively share the inspiration behind the products and their business model through unique product labels of their own design.

“One of my favorite roles in our company is helping design marketing materials for the products,” says Christopher Bances, President of Taste of Immokalee and an IHS senior. “I’ve met lots of people that can help me in my future career.”

The students started by determining the cultural and nutritional needs of their community. They then created the food products. All are inspired by family recipes and use vegetables and fruits grown locally.

So far, the students have developed and produced a line of six products. They are available online and in 19 supermarkets across Collier County, Florida.

After one year in existence, the company was profitable. All proceeds benefit Immokalee students. So far, the business has awarded nine scholarships to Taste of Immokalee student entrepreneurs.

The students’ ultimate goal is to bring the products' production to Immokalee. This will help create jobs for people in the community.

Kayla with the products at a local taste testing“Taste of Immokalee has allowed for personal growth as I enter the world of business and entrepreneurship,” says Kayla Booney, a junior at Immokalee High. “Although I am the daughter of a business owner, I had little knowledge of what’s necessary to actually operate a business. Through Taste of Immokalee, I have learned that it takes responsibility, time, persistence, and dedication to bring to fruition what begins simply as an aspiration. I am now able to apply these qualities to other aspects of my life. Whether it’s school, work, or preparing for life after high school, I owe it to Taste of Immokalee.”

Taste the flavor. Savor the diversity. Feel the excitement. Experience the culture! Buy and try the products at www.tasteofimmokalee.com.

the Taste of Immokalee salsa with chips