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Kids mind their own business

Candice Lopez-quimpo
Let the kids earn their own money with their own businesses at the Kiddo-preneur Bazaar

HAPPILY IN BUSINESS. A kiddo-preneur smiles from behind his desk of goodies for sale at the bazaar. (Photo courtesy of Maiki Oreta)

MANILA, Philippines – Summer is upon us. For many parents, it’s that time of the year to scramble for meaningful activities for the children to engage in.

It’s also the perfect opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. Kids, after all, rarely run out of curiosity or energy. Channeling these into a productive and fun experience is usually the challenge.

Why not let them learn about the value of money and hard work? So posits Kiddo-preneur Bazaar, a selling event where the kids set up shop and sell their own products and services.

The bazaar’s first run in December last year was well-timed for the holiday season, a time when shoppers needed new gift ideas and kids needed some extra cash for their own Christmas spending.

“We were jampacked from start to finish in the last bazaar,” recalls Maiki Oreta, founder of Kiddo-preneur. “It came to the point that we were refusing applicants already because our venue just couldn’t accommodate all the kids and families who wanted to join. The goal is to organize this bazaar bi-annually. Once during the summer and another before Christmas, when kids need the money.”

Start ’em young

Kiddo-preneur was inspired by Maiki’s own daughter, 6-year-old Brielle, who was learning about money in school. A string of questions later led to the idea of setting up a little business venture, perhaps a lemonade stand.

The concept changed and evolved. Kiddo-preneur Bazaar came about with the belief that entrepreneurship need not have a minimum age requirement.

“Little kids are chock-full of ideas,” shares Maiki. “By channeling these ideas towards something profitable, we teach our kids the importance of earning one’s own money; that money will not always be doled out to them as in the case of allowance and that, at some point in time, they will have to earn it on their own. In some small way, through this simple bazaar exercise, we’re preparing them for that time.”

Skills and confidence building

It’s a tough balancing act for a parent who wants to foster a child’s independence and also wants to protect him from all sorts of hurt. Business can be an ideal venture to explore this tenuous situation and introduce him to the practical ways of life.

Business is not an abstract concept: you either earn money, break even or spend more than your capital outlay. It also requires preparation and demands an operations plan. At every point of the venture, it will require hard work, dedication and perseverance.

It sounds like a lot to heave onto a young child, but Maiki says that children can handle it.

“Kids have a natural charm that makes selling a bit easier. They are sincere, honest, approachable and they have a strong desire to please,” she points out. “In a country where kids don’t typically get summer jobs, this is a creative alternative. By putting these money-making ideas of theirs into action, we can do wonders for their self-esteem and confidence.”

Learning opportunities
A kid may have his dream job in mind early on, or he may not.

Being a child gives him the luxury of trying things out and changing his mind often. Parents are often willing to support and nurture skills, but separating the whims from the worthwhile ventures can be tricky.

One guideline is to stick to experiences that present learning opportunities, regardless of interest.

“The lessons one can learn from trying entrepreneurship firsthand are limitless, and these are the kinds of lessons that stick with you forever,” Maiki explains.

Since setting up shop involves so many components, it can be a good chance for little kids to learn about themselves, their interests and their talents. It’s probable that they’ll like one aspect over another. Is it the selling part? Promotions? Creating the merchandise? Making money?

Maiki advises, “Once we parents know what their specific areas of interest are, we can help by enrolling them in the schools or in the extra curricular activities that will nurture and hone their skills best in these areas.”

Understanding success and failure

At the first Kiddo-preneur Bazaar, a group of little boys sold cookies for Php 100.00 per box. In 5 hours, they earned Php 102,000.00.

But it’s not the same case for every little vendor.

Another group overstocked on inventory. Because they spent so much and sold less than expected, they didn’t make as much money.

Times like these, perspective plays a major role.

Maiki adds, “When you think about it, when would you rather learn that simple lesson of ‘not to over stock?’ When you’re 10 years old and selling candy and cupcakes or when you’re in your 20s with a larger investment? I think that the sooner they start trying, the earlier they start making their mistakes, the more equipped they’ll be as adults to face the greater challenges that come with financial freedom.”

Making a plan

The plan for a kiddo-enterprise can be outlined simply: find a product or service to sell. Gather ideas by talking to people and asking them their opinion about your concept. Tweak your product or service based on the information you’ve collected. Design an eye-catching booth that will stand out in the crowd. Advertise to your family and friends, before and during the event day.

“And sell with a smile,” Maiki adds. “The point of the exercise is to learn how to earn; we are not particular with what they sell. The kids can sell any product or service, as long as it’s wholesome. So store bought, repackaged or homemade, they’re all welcome.”

Parents are welcome to help the little entrepreneurs.

Depending on the age and developmental age of the child, parental support may vary. Maiki encourages parents to use this as a bonding experience with their children by helping them with their action plans and idea execution.

It also gives the children another perspective about the world they live in, from their parents.

Maiki shares, “At the end of the last bazaar, I overheard a conversation between a father and son. The little boy, tired from the day’s activities says to his dad, ‘Dad I’m so tired. Now I know why you’re so tired when you come home from work and why sometimes you can’t make it home for dinner.’ The dad looked as if his heart was about to melt and he just hugged his son and gave him a pat on the back for a job well done.”

Business support

Kiddo-preneur Bazaar doesn’t guarantee profit for the little businesses. It does, however, aim to support each little venture.

“We create an environment conducive to learning,” explains Maiki. “We organize the bazaar so kids can put up a little short term business. We advertise extensively to draw foot traffic and hopefully sales; but, after that, the kids are entirely on their own.”

The event is also designed as a learning environment for the children – both sellers and buyers – particularly when it comes to finances.

For Kiddo-preneur’s summer bazaar, GoNegosyo has been invited to put up an educational booth and give pointers on earning. BDO will impart lessons on banking and savings.

The Philippine Stock Exchange is another partner. Their role is to introduce stocks and investment to the children at their booth as well as through a scheduled field trip to the Makati bourse itself on another day.

Kids are also given the opportunity to donate some of their proceeds to Habitat for Humanity, or to sign up for an age-appropriate volunteer activity. This may be a feeding, reading, planting or building program.

For the children, joining a kiddie bazaar is a fun and exciting idea to do something so grownup. For the parents, it is valuable time and money spent for learning.

But one must look at the bigger picture. For the entrepreneurial world, it can be the catalyst for future success stories.

A kiddie bazaar may just be a drop in the bucket when it comes to the country’s economic state.

But there is no reason to belittle the bite-sized entrepreneurs: starting them early can create the far-reaching ripples of change and hope. – Rappler.com

(The Kiddo-preneur Bazaar is slated for Saturday, April 14, 2012 at Alphaland Makati, Edsa corner Chino Roces. For more information, emailkiddopreneur@gmail.com, call or text 0917-5800216 or check out www.therockwellclub.com. Kiddo-preneur is also on Facebook.)

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