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Kids Launch Businesses at Youth Entrepreneur Camp

Is it too early for a 10-year-old to start developing a million-dollar business plan? The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) doesn't think so. Last week, JPEC hosted 35 Eastern Iowa elementary school-aged kids at the Youth Entrepreneur Camp at the University of Iowa.

From July 12-16, students in grades 4-6 learned about entrepreneurship and what it's like to start a business through classroom and practical experience. They identified the basic skills required of entrepreneurs, learned how to market a product or service, determined profit potential for a new venture, and ended the week by developing a plan to start their own businesses. The camp was co-sponsored by the Hills Bank and Trust Company.

"This camp was a great opportunity for kids to come and explore entrepreneurship and see the possibilities for themselves," said Dawn Bowlus, JPEC Student Activities and Outreach Coordinator. "Developing entrepreneurial skills is something that will be beneficial to them throughout their entire lives, whatever their career path may be."

Participants listed by their hometowns included:

CEDAR RAPIDS: Avery Dement, Jonathan Kardos, Brian Rodriquez, Alexandria Saxen, Brandon Welty

CORALVILLE: Bo Kyung Choi, Hee Kyung Choi, Daniel Dai, Alexander Kim, Collin Kramer, Kayla Lee, Soo-Jeong Lee, Derek Norland, Vivian Zhu

IOWA CITY: Sumaya Awad, Ben Butler, Xiang Chen, Jeffrey Ding, Wenqi Duan, Claire Happel, Stanley Kamande, Fami Kiche, Emiliano Lasansky, Jihoo Lee, Robbie Li, Kaijie Lu, Divya Shiv, Jakari Smith

KALONA: Kara Schlabaugh

NORTH LIBERTY: Patrick McCaffery

SPRINGVILLE: Gabriel Lam

TIFFIN: Jay Slocum

WELLMAN: Travis Ford

WEST BRANCH: Elizabeth McCrory

The students worked in teams to develop business plans. They made flyers and business cards to promote their businesses, and even wrote income statements to see if their enterprises would make money. Most of the teams started with business ideas based on their interests and skills.

Jonathan Kardos, Gabriel Lam, and Patrick McCaffery like to draw and came up with a comic character called Fireboy, whose comics they plan to sell on on eBay. Fami Kiche, Jay Slocum, and Jakari Smith decided they wanted to sell flavored candy bags filled with Kool-Aid and sugar.

Ben Butler, Derek Norland, and Emiliano Lassansky developed a more traditional kid business: lawn mowing. Their slogan: "We're cute little kids who are saving money for college." Norland's family already does lawn care, so this business plan was a logical choice for him.

"I'd like to have my own business. It's a lot of fun, but it's going to be a challenge going up hills," Norland said.

Other business ideas included a snack stand, custom baking, a graphic design company, an online garage sale, videography, a scrap booking enterprise, a babysitting service, bike customization, custom-made candle holders, a video game swap service, a kids' hangout, and a pet-sitting business.

Highlights from the camp included a visit from award-winning ice cream creator Paul Heyn, who spoke about his own experience as an entrepreneur and helped the kids create and name their own original flavor of ice cream called the "mud ball." The students toured Hills Bank and Trust and Uptown Bill's Small Mall.

JPEC has offered the Youth Entrepreneur Camp for more than 10 years. This year marked the first year that JPEC offered a camp for middle-school children as well. Established in 1996 through the generous support of John and Mary Pappajohn, JPEC provides a unique opportunity for all UI students to take courses in entrepreneurship and earn a Certificate in Entrepreneurship in addition to their undergraduate major. JPEC also partners with Iowa community colleges to teach entrepreneurship programs statewide, offers several programs to foster the development of entrepreneurial skills in Iowa's youth, and supports the creation of sustainable technology companies in Iowa.


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