Attracting and supporting local businesses has proven to be a main priority for Lake Cowichan residents, being brought up again and again at public meetings and street surveys. While the town officials have said they are working to bring more commerce to the area, Lake Cowichan School is taking the opportunity to teach students about business with the new Young Entrepreneurs program, which recently culminated with a business show and sale last Thursday (April 30).
Grade four/five teacher Cindy Olson spent the past eight weeks teaching her 27 students about the many facets of business, including the different types of businesses, marketing, research, finances and social responsibility.
By the end of the program, Olson’s students had written their own business plans, created their own products and made posters as part of their marketing campaigns, until they were finally ready to test their knowledge in the marketplace.
The Young Entrepreneur Show took place in the LCS gym, where students set up tables to sell their products, which ranged from necklaces to bookmarks, bird feeders, candle holders, magnets, bags and locker decorations. The show gave them a chance to practice their customer service skills and hone their confidence. By the end of the hour, the students had sold their entire stock.
“The students were so proud of themselves, it was so nice to see,” Olson said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I did not expect a gym full of people… The community needs to be thanked, the gym was full of parents, grandparents and neighbours. It really made it for the kids.”
Students took out small loans of $4 to $20 in order to pay for their products, which they paid back with the profits from the show. The products sold for 50 cents to $4, with 10 per cent of the profits going to the charity of the students’ choice. The kids were able to raise $168 for the SPCA, BC Children’s Hospital and World Vision.
“The money is a sidebar to the show,” Olson said. “The point was to show them the responsibility of creating small businesses and learning to talk to customers.”
Olson said she hopes to continue the program next year, seeing as it was such a hit with both students and the community.