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Students help kids start their own business


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Published 2010-11-01T20:26:00Z”/>

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Sarah Brown

Instead of sleeping in and watching cartoons with his little brother early Saturday morning, seventh-grader Jared Briggs has been going to camp to learn how to start a business.

Briggs participated in Chico State’s Wise Kid Healthy Kid Camp last year, through which he was able to sell origami at the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market, he said. This year, he plans on selling his handmade hemp necklaces and bracelets.

The camp is one of several projects Chico State’s Students in Free Enterprise organization offers to the community to promote entrepreneurship, said senior Emily Jauregui, a business and project management major. The Wise Kid camp targets 8 to 12-year-old kids and is the most popular project the organization offers.

“It’s something that’s really dear to our hearts,” she said.

Every semester, the free camp teaches business basics over a period of five Saturdays, said senior Patrick McGuire, a business finance major and project director for the camp. The kids are paired up one-on-one with mentors from Community Action Volunteers in Education to develop their own business ideas.

“It’s amazing to see the products they come up with,” McGuire said.

Memorable businesses by kids in the past included Henry’s Art Cart, Crazy Tees and Kanteen Keeper, which sold straps for Klean Kanteens, Jauregui said. There have also been bookmarks, beef jerky, magnets, photographs and wallets made from duct tape.

Kids tend to take something they love and turn it into their business plan, McGuire said. For instance, a couple of participants who like to wear a different hat every day ended up selling hats. Other kids wanted to follow in their parents’ footsteps by trading stocks.

Students in Free Enterprise partners with local businesses to help offset the cost of running the program, McGuire said. Terry Givens, manager of the Saturday markets in Chico and Paradise, has been especially supportive, going out of her way to create booth space for the kids.

“She goes up to bat for us with the city,” McGuire said. “She’s had our back.”

It’s a great program for kids to learn business skills and the entrepreneurial spirit, Givens said in an e-mail interview. The market gives them the opportunity to test out their business plan and products they have.

Their personalities really come out, and it’s hard to say no to them at the market, Jauregui said. The experience increases kids’ confidence and brings some parents to tears.

“The positive feedback we get from the parents is through the roof,” McGuire said.

When Briggs first started the camp last year, he was shy, said his mother, Jessica Briggs. By the time he got his certificate at the end of camp, she noticed substantial growth in him.

“I’ve been really impressed with how he blossomed,” she said. “I see him coming out of his shell.”

It teaches him responsibility and ingenuity, said his father, Cody Briggs. His expectations for monetary gain have been realistic and it only costs him the $10 loan through the camp.

For Jared Briggs, it’s more than just learning how to run a business and make stuff.

“It’s an opportunity to make money,” he said. “And it’s really fun to sell all of it at the Farmers’ Market.”

Sarah Brown can be reached at [email protected]

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