With their creative minds and limitless ideas, children often make the best entrepreneurs.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria is partnering with Early Entrepreneurs, a social enterprise company, to invest in local children by giving students the opportunity to come up with and follow through on business ventures.
The money earned from these ventures will be given back into the Big Brothers and Sisters community in Victoria.
A recent University of Victoria commerce graduate, Kim Cope, started Early Entrepreneurs in order to teach kids about business and provide them with an opportunity to give back to their community.
Prior to the partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, money raised through the Early Entrepreneurs program went to Free the Children, to build schools in other countries.
“We realized that we needed to do something more local,” said Cope. “We always like our students helping other students, whether that be building schools and empowering education, or whether that be mentorship and building a stronger community."
Each classroom is given $100 as seed funding. They then have four to six weeks to come up with an idea and carry it out.
Through a $25,000 grant from Boston Pizza, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria will be able to invest money into classrooms and see that money multiply as a result of the kids' business ventures. All of the funds raised will go back to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We just really wanted to educate younger children about financial literacy,” said Anthea Cheng, development coordinator of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria. “We think that education is the key to solving a lot of poverty issues, which we see a lot of within our families at the agency.”
Currently, there are 30 classes involved in Early Entrepreneurs around 20 different schools in Kelowna, Vancouver, Surrey and Toronto. In mid-January, 10 classrooms will be joining the program in Victoria.
“It's a great way to get kids thinking outside the box,” said Cheng.
Since its inception two and a half years ago, Early Entrepreneurs has raised more than $63,000.
The curriculum changes based on the grade, making it a flexible program available for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
“I think the main benefit with it is that you get to see the sparks that come out of these students,” said Cope. “You get to see their passions come out in exploring and learning what entrepreneurship is.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria and Early Entrepreneurs are still looking for more teachers to get involved with the program. For more information, contact Anthea Cheng at 250-475-1117 ext. 41 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kim Cope at 604-349-8199 or at email@example.com.
There will also be an information meeting at Yates Street Taphouse on Jan. 21, where people will have the opportunity to talk about what inspires them and find out more about the program. To attend or to sign up to speak, contact Cheng or Cope.