Update April 2018: some of the programs highlighted in the blog post are no longer running, but the organizations have newer projects and easy-to-use websites so you can find them.

In our interdependent and interconnected world, it has become increasingly important for children to be able to foster a growth mindset to prepare for tomorrow’s problems. While not every child needs to grow up and become an entrepreneur, instilling an entrepreneurial mindset can be incredibly beneficial. If a child can become comfortable with risk and have a positive attitude towards failure, they will not be afraid to learn and share their creative insights.

“There are a lot of things we should be teaching our children, including entrepreneurship. But let’s encourage a different brand—one that emphasizes innovation, quality, and fairness…”

—Cameron Herold (TEDxEdmonton Talk)

Developing Business Skills While They’re Young

To teach some of these entrepreneurial skills, it is important that children be placed in unfamiliar situations that challenge their mindset in an engaging way. Here are a list of programs and initiatives your child can take part in to foster their entrepreneurial spirit:

  1. A Business of Our Own (Grade 6 in Edmonton or Calgary): Spread over five weeks, “A Business of Our Own” is an opportunity for students in grade 6 to operate their own retail business. Students will have the chance to get their hands wet in all aspects of the business, from setting pricing for material to deciding how to allocate their profits. Students will also have the chance to work with their volunteer and teacher to create a viable business plan and effectively market their product.
  2. Investment Strategies (Grade 7/8-12 in Edmonton or Calgary): Investment Strategies introduces youth to the stock market by teaching basic knowledge, various investment strategies, and the ethics and philanthropy that are associated with the global market. Students then use this knowledge and participate in a six week Canada-wide stock market simulation, where they are able to research and pick various stocks to purchase and sell!
  3. Company Program (Grade 9/10-12 in Edmonton or Calgary): The JA Company Program is an 18-week after school program where students have the chance to start up, operate, and liquidate their own product-based company! Students will have the opportunity to create and submit a complete business plan, develop marketing strategies, fabricate and sell their product, and close their business over the span of 4 months.
  4. The Knowledge Society Calgary (Ages 13-17): The Knowledge Society Calgary is an innovation incubator where students have the chance to collaboratively explore modern topics while developing the skillset required to become global leaders. Students are exposed to topics ranging from the Internet of Things to Ultra Poverty, with the ultimate goal of developing the skillsets needed to accomplish their goals in the real world.
  5. Entrepreneurial Adventure (Grade K-12): The Entrepreneurial Adventure is a hands on program that is designed to develop students’ enterprising spirit, financial literacy, innovative thinking, and social responsibility. Students use their business ventures to raise money for charities of all scales. The aims of this program include enhancing critical thinking skills, developing self-confidence, and inspiring future leaders in the community.
  6. Start their own business! (Ages 1-111): While this isn’t a specific program, starting a business of any scale is by far the most impactful way to learn about the operational process and challenges. Starting your own business, while daunting, can empower a child to solve problems in a novel and sustainable way. Just be sure to follow all applicable laws when registering and running your business (you can come to us if you need any help)!

Providing Resources to Prepare for Launch

For those who are a little older, there are many programs available to help take your business idea to the next level! Two include:

  1. Futurpreneur Canada (18-39): They are the only national, not-for-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring, and support tools for aspiring business owners as young as 18 years old.
  2. The Next Foundry (High School/University): They are a solely online program designed to accelerate the growth of young entrepreneurs by providing them with mentorship, capital, and a powerful network.

These programs represent just a few of the many ways we can foster a child’s emotional skillset! By bringing children to the point of being comfortable with being uncomfortable, we are able to support a new generation and develop them to become resilient, resourceful, and impactful.

If you still think it can’t be done, prepare to be amazed by some of our local talent—Sophia and Ghalia and Hania, who we have had the pleasure of helping along their journey into entrepreneurship!