The partnership formed this year
between IBM and the Canadian biotech firm MDS Proteomics may not have
been big news. The announcement in January didn't make the Los Angeles
But the little business deal with big implications
for protein research didn't slip the notice of Nicole Toussant,
a 10th grader at King/Drew Medical Magnet High School. She found
it on the Internet and used it for a class presentation, complete
with photos of the Toronto firm's headquarters and stories from
the financial media.
Toussant is one of about 20 King/Drew students who stay an extra
period after school to study the import-export business online,
and learn to launch businesses of their own.
Four of them, for example, are planning to export clothing, shoes
and body products. They say they'll handle only the "hippest" stuff
and are targeting the practically unlimited market of "anyone who
wants to look good and smell good at an affordable price."
The students receive high school credit for the class, and, if
they stick with it through the two-year curriculum, they have a
chance of selling some American products to overseas buyers.
The World Business Exchange Global Internet Trade Course is the
creation of Los Angeles businessman Roosevelt Roby and Instructor
Webb was a technology and math teacher at Locke High School in
South Los Angeles when he read about Roby's Internet-based company,
which provides international trade leads. He asked Roby to address
"The kids loved him," Webb said.
Webb said he saw the potential for a course that would help students
bridge the transition from study to career. Roby applauded and financed
"The idea of LAX expanding, and also the harbor, Alameda Corridor,"
Roby said. "All this is coming right here in our kids' laps. It's
important they understand how to embrace this."
Holing up in a hotel for several weekends, Webb and other teachers
designed a course around Roby's Web Site, which disseminates U.S.
Commerce Department information to international traders who subscribe.
As part of the course, students get free access to the Web Site.
The idea is that they will learn how to identify buyers for American
products and then locate the supplier.
The Los Angeles Unified School District approved the class for
credit as a business elective.
In the first year, students work on the basics of international
trade, learning about the interdependence of countries and how politics
can affect business. They also practice making presentations.
In the second year, they learn the types of business structures,
how to do a market analysis and how to get an international letter
of credit. Then they create their won company identities and start
mining the World Business Exchange Network for customers.
Any student who completed a sale would receive a middleman fee.
The money would go into the school budget. So far, Webb conceded,
the profits remain theoretical--but the possibility is a great motivator,.
"When I start mentioning how much money and goods travel up the
Alameda Corridor and how much can be made importing as well as exporting,
they can't wait to get started," he said.