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Old Investors, Young Entrepreneurs

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Maybe it's because tech icons Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg started young.

Or maybe it's because youth unemployment is at a staggering level -- twice that of the national average in some areas. But there is a renewed focus on nurturing young entrepreneurs these days, and some see the group as a good place to place bets on the future of business.

Can you identify the entrepreneur? It's Tori Molnar, 14, in the center, and the girls around her are some of her sales reps.

According to a Gallup poll published in October, 45% of students in grades 5-12 plan to start their own business, with 42% of respondents saying they plan to "invent something that changes the world."

Just last week the White House and Small Business Administration launched a Young Entrepreneur Series to connect aspiring entrepreneurs with resources in their communities to help them start or grow their own small business.

"Young Americans need to know that starting a business is a viable alternative to going to work for somebody else. There is a clear and urgent need to create more jobs for young Americans, and encouraging business ownership is an important way to meet that goal," according to a statement by SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns.

The SBA plans to hold five YES forums across the U.S. to reach its audience. The first one was held Monday in San Diego. A second was scheduled for today in Ames, Iowa.

"We're the most technologically savvy generation and the most educated generation in history," says Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, an organization made up of the nation's top young entrepreneurs. "We've also grown up in an age and time of watching our parents get laid off and watching the new economy be unkind to our generation, so that entrepreneurism is now being seen by many as a viable career path. More young people are getting involved earlier."

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