It was the year 2005 when I first came across the term 'entrepreneur' and the source was not a business book but through the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE, UK). It was not just about kids creating a lemonade stand but taking that experience to a new level!
I was totally surprised! (Note that in the year 2005, India had no concept of startups or entrepreneurship). Kids who pursue the CIE curriculum have the subject of 'Enterprise' in the IGCSE level (equivalent to our 10th std of state/central boards).
This subject helps students identify, plan, implement and evaluate their enterprise projects. This means they're focusing on skill sets that actually encourage kids to work on their ideas like project work and actually experience 'enterprise' learning for themselves.
Lemonade stands or cookie boxes are not just hobbies but also get people into understanding the art of sales, estimating potential customers and also brainstorming sales, ideas and promotions. Way back in 2005, this was totally unthinkable in India, what with parents telling kids to focus on studies and not on other stupid non-curricular activities.
Today more than 12 years later, I think our kids still need our attitudinal change to accept that they need to start young. If you're in for catching them young, here are the ways parents or educators or any person whom they look up to; in encouraging them:
- Connect to the local community: The kids who are involved in their own community, its problems, its methods of administration and civic sense realize their community 'problem-solution' gaps. You think this is hard? In fact, kids with their imagination and ingenuity come up with a workable solution better than us adults who are set in our ways. Community ecosystem enablers like eChai encourages startup cultures. With presence in more than 25 cities, echai has expansive reach online and offline. You can also check out the colleges in your area or nearby who have e-Cells. You can volunteer your time to be part of the events and projects.
- Get in touch with the city startups: Not all kids can be problem solvers. Some kids need experience and exposure get a clarity of the whole concept and its process. When kids join startups or intern for them during their summer or winter breaks, they gain an insight into the enterprise model. Sometimes, when your own parent is into entrepreneurship, kids tend to get inspired too. Vian Awasthi is just 7 year old but he has his own startup, Back to Rooots in which he encourages home farming via organic methods. His mother, Avisha Awasthi has her own interior design startup, Ace Creatiwitty.
- Gain skills beyond academics: Too much emphasis on the academic knowledge in India has its own set of problems. While the kids have theoretical input their application based skills are negligible. As a result when our kids go to college, and start looking for jobs (or think of creating their startups) they are either too confident or none. (Both of these aspects are dangerous). Says Moomal Sisodia, CoFounder of NIPCD Institute: "Most students who come to us are already graduates or about to; and all of them are desperate for a job. We try and make them realize that first of all, they need to develop their skills to fit into the job they're aspiring for and hence training is a must. Were this kids inducted into skills and training early on, they would have landed a job very well by the time they would have graduated!"
While Moomal might be worried about the talent acquisition and job placement problems in the framework of learning, stories like that of Vian's gives us hope. With the world opening up for the kids, we reckon that it is also opening great vistas for better enterprising skills and opportunities for the young India.
If you're a parent reading this, share this with other parents too. If you're a startup and think that you can help kids acquire learning in summer/winter through projects, put in your requirements in: https://echai.in/talent to encourage them. If you're a startup founder and have kids or have friends who are parents - find out how to work around the rising skills and enterprise scenarios.
ps: Get Your Annual eChai Pass for Startup Networking Events (50+ Events) in 15+ Cities in India for Rs. 1000 at eChai.in.