Enterprising youth are getting a nudge in the right direction from Lennox and Addington County, thanks to a new county pilot project.
The Kidpreneur program gives grades 6 through 8 students in Lennox and Addington County elementary schools a framework for brainstorming and developing their own small business plans.
Developed by Lennox and Addington County Economic Development staff, the Kidpreneur program is being embraced by three Napanee area elementary schools that are preparing students for a Kidpreneur Fair hosted by the county on April 25 in Napanee.
Selby Public School hosted its own Kidpreneur Fair on Thursday, at which 90 students presented their “Big Ideas” to a panel of judges from the county’s economic development office.
Those big ideas were broad-ranging.
Student Jada Vanderveer designed a prototype for a phone-finding device, which features a panda phone case and a small remote finder attached to one upper corner.
“If you lose your phone a lot, this is good for you,” Vanderveer said. “If you whistle or yell in a seven-metre radius, then your phone will beep. It will hopefully stop people from losing their phones. I know a lot of people lose their phones and I do, too.”
Vanderveer put together her projected monthly sales, startup costs and monthly expenses to put together her product.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” she said. “I always had this idea in the back of my head and thought this was the perfect opportunity to use it.”
“For the past two years, I’ve been dreaming of owning my own bakery,” student Macy Martin said. “When we were told we could do this, I got really excited.”
Martin constructed product and price lists for her hypothetical bakery business and designed a logo. She conducted a survey to test the local market for her baked goods and scouted out ideal locations to set up shop.
Selby student Grace Hinch built a business plan for a smoothie business that delivers custom and healthy smoothie ingredients to people’s homes.
“My mom has her own business, so I want to follow in her footsteps,” Hinch said. “She’s taught me a lot of things.”
Hinch pointed out that starting a business is not easy, and that the Kidpreneur program helped her see some of the challenges that could arise from starting out in that endeavour.
“It’s not easy, and there are a lot of things that I don’t know about,” she said. “There are a lot of challenges for creating your own business, like finding the money to start up.”
Grade 5/6 Selby Public School teacher Kelly McCutcheon said that when Lennox and Addington County brought the Kidpreneur proposal to the school, they jumped at the opportunity.
“Our kids right away said that they’d love to create their own businesses,” McCutcheon said. “From there they took a passion and went and created business plans with all the steps of creating an actual business plan, expenses, profit, marketing ideas, everything they needed to create an actual business.”
McCutcheon said that the kids were extremely engaged with the process.
“This is great for lots of reasons,” she said. “It was math, it was language, it was science, social studies. It was all the subjects combined into something that was engaging to them, and it’s something that some of them may go forward and join business classes in high school. They may do these businesses now as young kids.”
Stephen Paul is the director of community and development services for Lennox and Addington County. He and his staff were at Selby Public School to choose 24 business plans to move on to the Kidpreneur Fair on April 25.
“This all started with our idea to start a Kidpreneur project within Lennox and Addington County,” Paul said. “Our office is a big believer that we need to foster entrepreneurship, and starting in Grade 6, 7 and 8 is the most important time to show the students and the kids that there are lots of different opportunities available to take that big idea that’s bouncing around in their heads and turn it into a business idea.”
Paul and his staff presented the Kidpreneur model to schools throughout the county, and Selby Public School, J.J. O’Neill Catholic School and Southview Public School jumped on board. Each school will send students to the main event at the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives at the end of April.
“We expect to have over 50 projects presented at the Museum and Archives,” he said. “They can show off those entrepreneurial minds that are within our grade schools here in Lennox and Addington. It’s pretty exciting.”
Winners in different categories will be selected at that event, and in the future there may be some incentive provided for winners to jumpstart their business ideas. This year, Kidpreneur is in pilot phase.
“This year we’re trying to feel out what the response is,” he said. “I think today is a great example of what that response has been. Honestly, we want to see this at every single school, and we want to grow it so that we can actually provide in the future the opportunity for these businesses to start up. … When it’s all said and done, it’s not really about a competition or contest, it’s about providing new opportunities, getting kids thinking in a different way, and creating some education that combines a whole bunch of different things in the classroom into being an entrepreneur,” he said.
Tracey Snow is the business development officer for Lennox and Addington County.
She works with high school students on a regular basis promoting entrepreneurship, and she is excited to see younger students having similar opportunities.
“[We want] to get them at this age group, and talk to them about the choices they have in high school and some of the courses they can take,” she said.
Giving younger students experience in business lets them store that information away for their future life decisions.
“When they graduate from high school and college or university, they’re able to say, ‘You know what, I know what it’s like to maybe start a business. I tried understanding what it’s like to be in business.’ So when they’re finished their secondary education, they can make those choices,” Snow said. “They’ve already gone through processes in those earlier years to see what it’s all about.”
Snow said she has assisted high school students over the years who have gone through college or university and are now operating their own businesses in the region.
“We want them to go to university,” she said. “That portion is really important. But when they finish that, we want them to know that they have choices, and one of those is being in business in Lennox and Addington.”
This article appeared in The Kingston Whig Standard on April 2, 2018. Story by Meghan Balogh.