The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) is designed to advance high school innovation and student entrepreneurship in the state of Mississippi. SEP programming consists of an annual series of regional, virtual, and statewide student opportunities, each specifically designed to introduce high school students to essential topics like opportunity recognitionmarket validation, and essential/soft skills.


The mission of the Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) is to provide Mississippi’s youth a head start in becoming our state’s future innovators and business leaders through a hands-on approach to opportunity recognition and real solution development.


The SEP is coordinated by the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education (CEEE) as an outreach service of The University of Southern Mississippi College of Business and Economic Development. Founded in 2007 as the Southern Mississippi Youth Entrepreneurship Program (SMYEP), the SEP was developed as a critical response to the lack of existing entrepreneurship training within Mississippi’s K-12 educational system.


The University of Southern Mississippi, Jones County Junior College, the Area Development Partnership, Harrison County Economic Development Authority, the Economic Development Authority of Jones County, and a pilot group of four Mississippi public high schools participated in the initial development of the program in Forrest, Harrison, and Jones Counties.

The SEP has since grown to engage more than 50 high schools across the state and to annually train more than 500 high school students and educators in the application of critical business development, personal finance, and economic principles.


  • Local Opportunity Recognition
  • Personal Asset Mapping
  • Market Research & Validation
  • Soft Skills (e.g., networking, business etiquette)
  • Business Financing (e.g., bootstrapping)
  • Furthering Education
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Planning & Development


Check out our Events page!