‘Scouting’ the next generation of Northern Nevada’s female entrepreneurs
RENO, Nev. — Baylee Mee has sold a lot of Girl Scout Cookies.
We’re talking paying-for-a-trip-to-Belize amount of cookie sales.
Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, Caramel deLites, you name it, Mee, a senior at Galena High School in Reno, has sold it and then some.
“In my whole Girl Scout career, I’ve sold over 6,800 boxes,” Mee, 17, said in a phone interview with the NNBW. “And that’s just through growing confidence each year and realizing, statistically, what sells and what doesn’t sell. Not only does it create leadership and competence and selling abilities, it also creates a mindset of how can I make things better? How can I fix the process?”
In other words, for the past 12 years, since she started selling cookies as a 5-year-old, Mee, in many ways, has developed the thinking of a young entrepreneur.
And she’s not alone.
According to a nationwide survey conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) called “Today’s Girls, Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs,” 92% of girls that are ages 8-17 say they are smart enough to be an entrepreneur, and 89% are already engaged in entrepreneurial activities.
The findings also showed that girls who participated in Girl Scouts programming had an edge over girls who have not. Specifically, Girls Scouts are twice as likely to have done entrepreneurial activities — and received support for those pursuits — and are more likely to want to be an entrepreneur in the future.
For Heidi Howe, interim CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada (GSSN), these findings come as no surprise.
“Girl Scouts, as a whole, has always been about the entrepreneurial mindset and financial literacy,” Howe told the NNBW. “And that means learning foundational skills like goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills, business ethics … all those things wrapped up into one.”
Simply put, GSSN is working to mold girls in the greater Reno-Sparks area into successful young women that will help lead the region’s community. According to GSSN, the local Girl Scouts branch offers everything from financial literacy programs to the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world: the Girl Scout Cookie Program.
For Mee, the financial literacy knowledge has helped her understand the importance of saving and managing money effectively, especially the money she earned from selling thousands of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. In 2018, Mee used a portion of the money she saved up for a Girls Scouts-related trip to Belize.
“When I was little, before I learned the financial literacy part of Girl Scouts, like a kid with an allowance, I’d spend it on everything as fast as possible,” said Mee, who was a girl board member of the GSSN Board and a Gold Award recipient (Girl Scouts’ highest honor). “And now that I’ve learned how to budget, how to save my money, and separating it into categories of needs and wants, I’ve definitely come a lot further and I’m a lot prouder of how I spend my money.”
The GSRI results also showed that girls like Mee are hungry for more information, more opportunities and more mentorship to foster and bolster their entrepreneurial skills. Black and Latina girls, the study found, show the highest rate of interest in being an entrepreneur in the future or in starting their own company.
“These girls are our future,” Howe said. “They are our community. And knowing that we have girls that have this courage and competence and character that’s instilled in them through the Girl Scouts makes me know that I’m going to be living in a pretty amazing world where these girls will be our community leaders.”
Notably, the GSSN, which has nearly 5,000 members, are also working to support the community during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the GSSN, all throughout its council — in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, and Fallon — Girl Scouts are making and delivering masks to those in need during the COVID crisis.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.