If you stop by Arizona Center (400 E Van Buren St) this Saturday, March 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., right away you’ll notice that something unusual is happening. You’ll find 50 booths with over 100 entrepreneurs – none older than 14 years old – plying their wares.
I interviewed event organizer Scott Donnell about the Arizona Children’s Business Fair and what it means for the future of our city.
FP: Why should kids care about entrepreneurship? And why should we care that kids care about it?
SD: Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of the marketplace, and it can be the most freeing job in the world. Why? Because it allows people to use their best gifts and talents to the fullest, and the last person to fire you is you. I believe that kids are really pretty brilliant creators if we just give them the space to do it. Business is easy – make something with your hands that others want, and sell it to them safely for more than it cost you to make it. Kids get that pretty quickly. It is amazing to see them sell something for the first time that they made themselves – that is the spark we are trying to get to. That unleashes a kid – no more fear of getting a job, no more chores, no more boring. Every kid is on a hero’s journey, and their calling is to find where their skills, passions, and needs of the world meet. That’s why we should care that kids get these chances to be creators.
My first business was in second grade, making bead-gecko keychains for $2, and I hired all my friends to make them for me. We sold hundreds of them until the teacher took away our beads because no one was doing work. “They need to study,” she said. “Why?” I replied. “Because they have to get good grades and go to college,” she said. “But why?” I asked. “So they can get a good job,” she replied. “They already have a job!” I said.
FP: How do you envision the future of entrepreneurship in metro Phoenix? What’s on the horizon?
SD: Entrepreneurship is just creative service of others. Phoenix has been the hub of real estate for a century, but we are seeing a new surge in Phoenix of tech, small business, self employment, and accelerators. There is a new culture of collaboration and innovation in Phoenix unlike [anything] I’ve seen before. Arizona makes it easy to start and run a business, and I think the Children’s Business Fair is a long term investment in that theory.
FP: In this business fair, young entrepreneurs will be judged on and awarded for their business ideas. What kinds of ventures can we expect to see?
SD: Right now we have 150 kids coming to the fair, ages 5-13. They will all be selling products and services made with their own minds and hands. Expect to see jewelry, recycled art, walking sticks from Saguaro cacti, sculpted sharks, fitness classes, chocolates, luggage tags, clothing, consulting services, and a host of other amazing businesses. We even have one student who wrote a book on starting a business who will be helping the other students at the fair. His name is Dakota and he is 12.
To learn more visit azchildrensbusinessfair.com.
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