AboutUs

Brian Jenkins' passion is helping under-resourced, urban youth and adults discover their ability to make a positive impact on their communities through entrepreneurship. He is committed to developing people's professional potential and helping them create economic opportunities in an effort to generate productive change and restore hope.

Brian's interest in entrepreneurship education is grounded in his faith and desire to serve in urban America, where so many people find themselves with limited economic opportunities. While finishing his undergraduate studies in English & Religion at The University of Iowa, this focus on empowering others was cultivated by Brian's mentor, Dr. Don Davis, founder and president of The Urban Ministry Institute. After earning his Master's of Arts in Theological Education at Wheaton College, Brian discovered the budding field of entrepreneurship education and training.  

As a volunteer at Lawndale Christian Development Corporation on Chicago's west side,  he then volunteered to lead an entrepreneurship class with his wife of 17 years, Jenai Jenkins, Ph.D. Brian's dedication to serving others while living out his faith in praxis have led to a career in an emerging field of study now formally called entrepreneurship education.

"What inspired me was the students' enthusiasm and their will to dream about the possibilities of what they could become," says Brian.

Since those early years, Brian has been privileged to train thousands of students and teachers through Entrenuity, the nonprofit organization he launched in 1999. Entrenuity's success in turning students into business leaders with character is reflected in the launch and operations of more than 30 student-run businesses.  

Equipped with an "anything is possible" entrepreneurial mindset and a goal of providing minority youth and adults with tangible real-world marketplace skills, Brian became determined to create a way to teach entrepreneurship skills to more people effectively and efficiently.

"It's not simply about creating a profitable business. The value of generating profits is necessary for meaningful engagement where every business owner operates a successful business. In doing so, each opportunity to engage a client is an opportunity to serve and model ethical business behaviors while providing unmatched service, which is my motivating factor—especially for under-sourced individuals who look like me."  

The mission of StartingUp Now was inspired by historic African-American leaders such as Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, and Frederick Douglass, along with modern leaders and influencers, such as Rev. Tom Skinner, Dr. Melvin Banks, and Dr. Don Davis, who have motivated Brian to help others discover how to create their own opportunities. With StartingUp Now, Brian is bringing the motivational message of "opportunity for all" with business training tools that can change the course of people's lives and economies.

As new opportunities develop, Brian recognizes that the love and support of his wife, Jenai Jenkins, have allowed him the chance to move forward in spite of daunting obstacles. Both Brian and Jenai hope their three beautiful children will have the opportunity to realize their dreams while making an impact on the lives of others.