Ever since listening to her mother tell stories about small business owners, Sofia Forcella has been interested in what it’s like to start a business, she said.
Now, the 16-year-old Garden Oaks resident is hoping to use that passion for small business to land in elite company by finishing a Girl Scout Gold Award project, she said. Her plan is to create social media pages and other tools that might help women who are trying to succeed in the small business world, Forcella said.
“I have been researching the topic of female entrepreneurship and have realized that for many female small business owners, it is hard to build a network of other small businessowners, to brainstorm ideas, partner on opportunities and generally have a person to connect with,” Forcella said.
Less than 6 percent of all Girl Scouts finish their Gold Award project, with most members spending somewhere between a year or two on the project, according to the organization’s website. It is the highest achievement in the organization and calls on members to identify a community issue and, using research, develop a plan to address it, according to the organization.
For Forcella, the Gold Award project isn’t her first attempt using a Girl Scout project to aid small businesses, she said.
Forcella in 2021 worked with several other Girl Scouts on a Silver Award project where they made baskets full of sensory toys and passed them around at neighborhood businesses so children with autism and similar diagnoses might have something to play with, she said.
Now working on the solo project, Forcella is aiming to help a slightly different group of businesses than those that received the toy baskets, she said.
“Those were probably a little bit bigger than what I’m aiming to do with this project,” she said. “I interviewed a woman who lives near my house that runs a spray tanning business. She runs it on her own, though she has a few people working with her.”
Forcella’s mom has worked for a company whose job is helping small businesses apply for grants and seek other aid, so Forcella believes she understands the sorts of unique challenges women in particular face trying to start a business.
The Garden Oaks student plans to develop an Instagram page with information about resources women might use to improve their business networks, Forcella said. She will also host Zoom networking events to help connect female entrepreneurs across the area and host tutoring sessions on how to better use social media to network a business, she said.
New small businesses, like one someone might find on an Etsy shop or the spray tanning business, are the main targets of this project, Forcella said.
Finishing the Gold Award project is no easy task.
Now that Forcella has a plan, she must submit a proposal on how to proceed, she said. Once that’s approved, she then moves forward with her ideas, she said.
Now a junior, Forcella hopes she might finish the project near the start of her senior year, but much depends on how quickly everything goes, she said.
“This is something I’ve been working on since the start of the year, in March,” she said. “It takes awhile to do.”