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Enterprise education will transform teens

“Start today, not tomorrow. If anything, you should have started yesterday. The earlier you start, the more time you have to mess up.” — Emil Motycka

SME’s Chat with Phillip Chichoni

The winners of last week’s challenge, where I asked business owners to share their best working marketing ideas are Samukeliso Moyo and Alford Nyamidzi.
They have already been sent their copies of the June issue of BusinessLink magazine. You can read their contributions at http://smebusinesslink.com.

As BusinessLink Silver Club members, they will attend the next networking breakfast meeting for free. This month’s event is on the 26th and we have invited businessman Phillip Chiyangwa to share his “10 top tips for success in business and five mistakes to avoid”.
Now to this week’s issue, we know Zimbabwean teens are very enterprising.

You see them selling all sorts of things, from confectioneries, comic books to used mobile phones and video games, to their schoolmates and friends.

At primary school I used to bring sweets and biscuits to sell to other kids at breaktime. However, that enterprising spirit took a break because it was kind of embarrassing to be seen selling things at a former Group A school.

A search on the internet about successful young entrepreneurs reveals some very interesting insights. Here are a few examples:

Hart Main is a 14-year-old American boy who came up with the idea of scented candles for men when he was teasing his sister about the girly scented ones she was selling for a school fund-raiser.

Although she didn’t expect him to fully pursue the manly scented candles idea himself, he did, and the idea has turned into a nationwide success. Main put in an initial investment of US$100, his parents put in US$200, and they all worked together to develop the candles as a group.

The available scents include: Campfire, Bacon, Sawdust, Fresh Cut Grass, Grandpa’s Pipe and more. Today, ManCans candles are in over 60 stores across the country and have sold about 9 000 units.

Juliette Brindak started her business when she was 10. She drew people that she called cool girls. She then decided to create a website for her sketches which led to Miss O & Friends which has been valued at US$15 million! See her website http://www.missoandfriends.com.

Joel Drapper was 13 when he first started designing websites and 15 when he launched his company. He now runs his own successful blog about SEO (Search engine optimisation) and Link Building — Some solid advice from such a young entrepreneur! See his website http://www.joeldrapper.com/.

Of course these are teens from the developed world, but with the internet having created a global village, anyone can do it from anywhere.

A question one then asks is, “If I knew what I know now about entrepreneurship and business when I was a teenager, where would I be now?”

The United Kingdom is set to introduce personal financial management into the primary school curriculum. Before that, in 2007, an organisation called Tenner (www.tenner.org.uk) introduced a competition for school children nationwide to come up with creative enterprise ideas. Selected kids were given £10 each to do something that would return the initial capital and profit within a month.

Creative and hardworking the kids were! One group introduced a movie cinema to their school, using a gym hall.

They brought films to primary school kids and their families as an after-school activity. By selling the movie tickets, popcorn and other snacks, they managed to raise £209,39 in one week.

Another group started a tuckshop selling healthy food. After the hard work of researching the market, selecting food and doing the costing, they managed to get the business running after a week. All the groups first underwent some simplified training on running a business and thus knew what had to be done.

I am confident something like that in Zimbabwe will bring out some outstanding young potential entrepreneurs among our teens. So I am working on making that happen. In partnership with other entrepreneurs and business organisations, we are launching the BusinessLink Young Enterprise competition.

More details on the programme, which is set to begin in July, are available on the Young Enterprise page of my website.

We need further ideas and suggestions to make this programme worthwhile and effective. Please send me an email with your ideas if you are willing to play a part in this programme.

Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. You may contact him by email, chichonip@smebusinesslink.com. You can also visit http://smebusinesslink.com

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