Students Create And Run Small Business, Learn Entrepreneurship Skills

Apr 10, 2019

Grade school students got to put their entrepreneurship skills to the test at Purdue University Wednesday. The Classroom Business Enterprise program helps teach kids about the basics to running a business.

Tables of handmade goods were on display as students described the small businesses they started.

“We made about $500. We spent $100, we donated $150 and we saved $250,” says Mayflower Mill Elementary School third grader David Rowe.

He helped create a Christmas-themed business, Rudolph Candy Grams.

“I enjoy that we’re not in the classroom and we’re on a something you don’t get to do everyday experience,” says Rowe.

Purdue Federal Credit Union community relations specialist Lindsey Kilty participated as a volunteer business expert and says the financial literacy this program gives students early on in their education is important.

“We find a lot of times there are kids coming to campus here at Purdue that don’t even know how to balance a checkbook,” says Kilty. “So learning those basics at a younger age and really instilling some of those life skills, just like I said in the long run, makes them better member of society.”

Mayflower Mill Elementary second and third grade teacher Christy Harshbarger says she continues to have her students participate each year to take what she is already teaching in her classroom one step further.

“So financial literacy is at an all-time low and so my kids are already understanding things about finance and economics that since they are understanding it now and working with it now, hopefully when they are adults they will already be making wise financial decisions and they will understand their personal finances,” says Harshbarger.

But she says the program also teaches her students the soft skills they will need in their professional careers.

“This is the chance to go out and practice it,” says Harshbarger. “So practicing their handshakes, their interview skills, eye contact, presenting yourself well, greeting someone, ending a conversation. So this is all just wraps it all up for them.”

Purdue Center for Economic Education director Tim Moore says the program gives students the chance to learn financial literacy and the basics of running a business.

“Everyone has to work out how to budget. It just helps generally with their math skills,” says Moore. “Someone was relaying earlier that as apparently as these kids go to supermarkets now, they understand better how their parents have to balance budget and so on. So I think there’s a whole lot of life skills that are embedded in this sort of program.”

Frankfort Middle School seventh grader Eli Grasham says he’s learned some of the details to operating a business and motivated to start his own later in life.

“I’ve always had some kind of interest in running business, but now doing this I have more of an idea of how it works and how I could actually manage it instead of just ignoring all of the needs and just being like, ‘I’m gonna start a business,’ like I was when I was like 5,” Grasham. “Now that I’m taking this class and now that I’m participating in an actual business, I’m enjoying and seeing that I would actually really enjoy making a business in the future.”

Three schools, from Lafayette and Frankfort, participated in the West Lafayette showcase this year. A second one is scheduled for April 17 at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.