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Albion students learn what it’s like to win, lose in business

Kooper Hoy, Grade 7, pitches his hand-made book lights to a customer at Albion elementary on Thursday.    - Colleen Flanagan/the news
Kooper Hoy, Grade 7, pitches his hand-made book lights to a customer at Albion elementary on Thursday.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/the news

The most gifted composer of all time may have never played a note, says a philosophical musing about opportunities.

What if the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffett went for a comfortable government job, with all stat holidays and a sound pension?

“A lot of people don’t realize they have the entrepreneurial spirit until they are introduced to it,” said Jason Uswak, who helped lead the Grade 6-7 class at Albion elementary through a Young Entrepreneur Show last week.

Uswak is with Envision Financial, which has paired with Powerplay Strategies to introduce the world of business to seven Maple Ridge schools.

The kids filed into the gym with products they had developed – no food allowed. They were offered for sale for a price ranging from 75 cents to $5. There were custom picture frames, a Play Dough-type toy, jewelry, pet rocks and more.

Albion principal Ron Lanzarotta said there was a great energy in the gymnasium. The kids had developed products, written financial plans that included loans from parents, put together displays, and even practised interacting with customers.

He said there was initially some nervousness for the young business owners. Would their products sell, or would they leave the gym with all their stock?

“You put yourself on the line when you develop a product and try to sell it,” said Lanzarotta.

“All of the kids were successful.”

The spirit of entrepreneurship was burning bright, with sales pitches right off the used car lot.

“I’m charging $4, but if you’re a teacher or a former teacher, like you are, $3,” Kooper Hoy said to a customer.

Jenny Wahl apparently liked the line, and bought one of Hoy’s picture frames.

Customers included parents, staff and other kids from the school, and they bought up the goods in short order. Some sold out, and then took even more orders.

Uswak has a recently completed a business degree with a concentration in entrepreneurship and innovation. He was amazed at how the 12-year-olds went through the same exercises he had in university.

“It was crazy – it was exactly the same, just at a different level,” he said. “You could see a lot of the kids were having fun with it.”

Lanzarotta agreed, saying the class asked to do another project after Christmas. The project was part of the health and career planning curriculum, but it will not be repeated this year.

Uswak said the show succeeded.

“It taught kids how businesses are operated,” he said.

“And it had a charitable aspect as well – they had to donate 10-per-cent of their net to a charity.”

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