Charlotte Shapers Fighting High Youth Unemployment
CHARLOTTE, NC- The plan for the Queen City Mobile Market is in place.
"Phase one will start off with a used pick up truck and a trailer hitch," said creator Barry Francouis.
Francois says the purpose is to bring fruits and vegetables into Charlotte's food deserts – those areas with little or no access to fresh food.
"Between Uptown and NoDa area, there's only the Food Lion in Plaza Midwood and the Harris Teeter. Uptown is almost a food dessert itself," said Francois.
The chef and creator says the plan lacked one thing - money. That was until he submitted the business plan to the Charlotte Shapers, who pitted him against five other 18 to 30 year-olds with business models that solve social issues like hunger and poverty.
"We wanted to really promote a spirit of entrepreneurship amoung young people," said Chip Johnson, chairman of the Charlotte Shapers.
18 to 29 year-olds face a 10.9 percent unemployment rate. That's three points higher than the overall national average and Johnson say we face a similar gap here in Charlotte.
"We've seen it affect our peer group first hand," said Johnson.
Through Shape Charlotte, Barry won almost 13,000 dollars, an office space and partnership with Queen City Forward.
"Making sure Barry and his company are connected to the right capital opportunities and investors that can help his business grow," said Charles Thomas with Queen City Forward.
Johnson says the growth will create local jobs.
Until then, Barry is starting small and getting the market rolling around Charlotte in March.
The Charlotte Shapers are part of the world economic forum.
The group is supposed to create programs in Charlotte that make a global impact.