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Bay’s youngest business brains build up for mall market day

By Nicky Willemse - Jun 20, 2017
Bay’s youngest business brains build up for mall market day

Port Elizabeth’s youngest entrepreneurs – some only in Grade 1 – are gearing up to sell the innovative products they have made through their own small businesses, at a market day at Walmer Park on June 24.

The goods on sale will include jewellery, picture frames, stationery holders, bird feeders and more – which the 50 business kids, who come from nine schools across the Bay, have been pouring heart and soul into – with profit in mind – for the past four months.

The group, who range in age from seven to 16, have been honing their business and financial skills in the national Young Entrepreneurs (YE) programme, which was introduced in the city earlier this year.

“I’ve learned that you mustn’t make products too expensive or too cheap,” said Collegiate’s Pascal Malherbe, 8, who has been hard at work making clips and brooches for her stall.

Alive Luphond, 12, from Higher Ground Christian School has been tapping into his creative side with decorative frames. “I’ve learned a lot about design and making a product look nice.”

Grey Junior’s Keegan van Heerden, 13, hopes to become a pilot one day but says he will use his entrepreneurial skills to run a second business to make extra money. “I’ve learned how to make bracelets. I’ve enjoyed it, but also realised that it takes time and you have to be focused to make them.”

Ian Nortjie, 10, also from Grey Junior, is planning on using his entrepreneurial knowledge to open his own company, which will have discovery and inventions at its core. “I want to open a business to employ physicists.”

Those who visit their stalls, which will be set up near Walmer Park’s cinemas from 10am to 12am on Saturday (June 24), will find a whole array of new “start-ups”, complete with business cards and other marketing material alongside their products. There will even be customer feedback forms so the budding business stars will be able to measure their success – and identify which areas to improve.

“They are in the final stages of getting ready for their market day,” said Ansulene Prinsloo, who is the Port Elizabeth YE franchise holder.

She believes all children should be equipped with the skills to run their own business, and manage their own finances – skills that are not typically taught through the traditional school system.

“These days, a university degree is no longer a guarantee of a job. And while I still value a university education, I have seen too many graduates sitting without jobs … Kids today also need to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice. If they have the skills to start their own businesses, this will benefit the economy and create employment for others.

“By the time the YE children complete the YE programme, they will be able to run their own businesses, as they learn everything practically, not theoretically.”

In each year of the YE programme – which caters for children from Grades 1 to 9 – the children have to run their own small businesses, which entails coming up with a name and logo, registering the business, making business cards, creating a product (with a loan from their parents) and then selling it at a market day. They also learn how to manage their money, with a strong focus on saving, spending, sharing and investing.

“These kids don’t have to wait till after school or after university to run their own businesses … By Grade 9, they will probably be more financially literate than many adults.”

The programme also has a strong outreach component, where private sector sponsorships in partnership with the YE Foundation Trust ensure children at under-privileged schools also receive entrepreneurial training. In this respect, Prinsloo has introduced the YE programme at Charles Duna Primary School in New Brighton, and more of these projects will run in the second half of the year.

Image: INNOVATIVE ENTREPRENEURS … Collegiate Primary’s Pascal Malherbe (left) and Erica Primary’s Latifa Latunji, both 8, are among a group of Bay youngsters who have been hard at work making jewellery, gift cards, bird feeders and other products to sell to the public on June 24.