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Building their business sense: young women as entrepreneurs

Grade 8 student Jianna DeJesus said she felt scared at first, but learning how to use the drills and saws got much more comfortable as she and her group moved through the process of creating wooden necklaces to sell at the Fraser River Middle School Entrepreneur Fair.

The project – open to all grade 6 and 8 Technical Education students – challenged students to create business plans, develop products, target a portion of their sales to a good cause, and then sell their wares to peers … who arrived class-by-class to shop through the wide range of creations.

For students like Jianna, the weeks of preparation included many phases:

  • ideation of their necklace line that was intentionally gender-neutral to ensure everyone could appreciate and wear what they had made (a product that was inspired by her personal interest in arts and crafts, but smartly took the profiles of the possible customers into consideration),
  • the hands-on development of the actual necklaces, as she and her peers got dusty making them and then cleaned them up as they got the display packaging ready,
  • and it also included learning about how to talk to people as they got ready to push for a few sales (though Jianna said that even if people couldn’t afford to buy anything she just hoped people could appreciate the necklaces and how much hard work went into creating them). .

Others, like Marta Duric, said her key focus was on building the business plan, more so than it was on the product. She leaned on a friend for support of her 3D printed wands, but she spoke about how important it is for everyone in her school to learn about Tech Ed. More importantly for her though, she says this kind of learning is just fun for her and the others who participated.

Karla Tran and her group built their business plan off the interests they each had as kids, landing on a “Slime and Skateboard” inspired combo. Karla said the project was really challenging but it taught her some really important skills: teamwork, how to manage money and said it pushed her to learn about the social skills needed to run a business or sell a product.

As this Entrepreneur Fair happened to take place on International Women’s Day, when Karla was asked about how important it is for women, in particular, to learn these skills, she also had this to add, “Nowadays people have stereotypes about  what people can and can’t do, and we should change that. Learning stuff like this will help make sure we can get equal pay as men do, when we’re older. And it’s important to defy those stereotypes to make things more equal.”

With the creativity, collaboration and some real business savvy on display, it’s safe to say this Entrepreneurial Fair was a hit … with those who participated in it and for the lines of kids outside the room, eagerly waiting with coins and bills in hand to support their friends.

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