More Than Words, a youth-run social enterprise that empowers young people to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business, is receiving national recognition as eBay’s #1 Small Business of the Year.
More Than Words won the distinction out of 1,600 small businesses considered for eBay’s 2019 Shine Awards. Program graduate, Mehki Jordan, attended eBay Open in Las Vegas to receive the award and represent the youth-run business.
“It was honestly like an out-of-body experience,” said Jordan. “I’m so proud of our business, what the youth have built at More Than Words, and what we’ve accomplished in our personal lives.”
At More Than Words, youth who are in the foster care system, court-involved, homeless, or out of school earn a paying job, working approximately 20 hours per week selling books in stores in Boston and Waltham and online through platforms like eBay. Youth operate a serious business, sourcing more than four million donated books each year, maintaining an online inventory of 140,000 titles, and earning $3.35 million in gross sales each year. Through this real work, young adults learn critical customer service, technology, inventory management, and leadership skills.
“I know what it’s like to be involved with the courts, to have family locked up, and to nearly be locked up myself,” continued Jordan. “This job is a great stepping stone for anyone who wants to build a career, to get things together in their personal life. At More Than Words, you’re part of a good thing, you feel like you have a purpose in the world, and you’re part of building something so that other youth can follow and have the same experience.”
“Our young people deserve this award,” said Jodi Rosenbaum, More Than Words Founder and CEO. “They show up to work every day, despite the trauma and chaos in their lives. Being eBay’s Small Business of the Year says to them: you matter, we see what you can do, you deserve to be recognized for the success of your business. We need the whole world to see and say this. A young person working, successful, mattering, learning and earning is what social services should look like for vulnerable youth.”
As eBay’s Small Business of the Year, More Than Words received a $15,000 cash prize, business support from eBay, and $10,000 to donate to Sky’s The Limit, a charity that provides underrepresented young adult entrepreneurs with one-on-one support, entrepreneurship training, and funding opportunities.
“We’re grateful to eBay for this support and proud to be able to donate to Sky’s The Limit,” said Rosenbaum. “Our young adults can run an award-winning business, take charge of their lives, and boost the lives of others.”