I began International Credit Union Week by giving a one-hour Biz Kid$ presentation at our local library. Since this was the introductory session, we selected episode 101 “What is a Biz Kid?” The library wisely scheduled the event on a day off from school (Columbus Day) and did a great job promoting the event in their publications and in the local newspaper. There were 33 kids registered and 30 showed up, including 2 Girl Scout Troops.
What is Entrepreneurship?
The program itself was very simple. I opened the session by asking if anyone knew what the word entrepreneur meant. Much to my delight, lots of hands went up. The kids gave their definition of the word (which was correct), then I asked for examples of entrepreneurs. They named both local businesses and nationally known celebrities like Bill Gates. We talked about the choices we have in the U.S. where we can go to work for an existing company or we can start our own, like entrepreneurs.
Next, we watched parts of the episode featuring the Biz Kids profiles. Since we only had one hour, I chose to watch segments of the show (about 15 minutes) rather than the entire episode. At the end of the episode, I explained the difference between regular entrepreneurs who start companies to make money and social entrepreneurs who raise money for charitable causes.
The Biz Brainstorm
After the video, I divided the kids into 6 groups so they could participate in an activity. They practiced some Biz Kid$ skills by working together and brainstorming ideas for some businesses. Each group had to select a recorder who wrote down the ideas and a reporter who shared the ideas out loud with everyone. It took the kids a few minutes to get going in their groups, but once they started talking, the room filled with excited noise. They had about 10 minutes for the activity; I announced “5 minutes left” and “1 minute left” to help keep them on track. Each group shared the ideas they generated. From pet sitting to aviation schools to theme parks to cheese farms, they created lots of interesting business ideas.
Since we had a few minutes remaining in the hour and some of the ideas were unusual, I told the group that one of the great things about being an entrepreneur is taking an idea that seems crazy or impossible and making it happen. I asked the kids to name some things that did not exist a few years ago that we have today, like cell phones with built-in cameras and apps for cell phones. It was amazing to watch the kids get excited as they thought of new things that didn’t exist when they were younger.
In retrospect, the only things I would change about the presentation are having the kids introduce themselves to each other when they first break into the smaller groups and to have something, either a giveaway or handout, that has the Biz Kid$ website address on it so they can take it with them.
Ripe for partnerships
Libraries are great partners because they already have experience working with kids and they are looking for ways to bring kids into the branches
A heart for change
It was easier for the kids to think of community service projects and fundraisers than ideas for new businesses. I was impressed by their generosity and thoughtfulness.
Melanie Murphy is the manager of member services for the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL). Her primary responsibility is to raise funds,and distribute grants and scholarships for the Illinois Credit Union Foundation. She also works with the Illinois Youth Involvement Council to promote financial education, especially for young people. Melanie coordinates REAL Solutions in Illinois to help credit unions serve the low-wealth community.