Schools arm kids with biz skills, fuel teen start-ups

08_07_2017The Times of India (Mumbai),

Gone are the days when bedtime meant settling down with Harry Potter. Frenzied all-nighters spent on the frontlines of innovation and debating cash flow versus outgoings have now taken over story hour.
School start-ups are putting teenagers in fast-forward mode. Making code words is giving way to computer coding, summer camps have been lost to hosting bazaars, incubators are up alongside phonetics labs, and negotiation classes start in elementary school.

This June, Columbia Business School travelled across Indian schools to hold global entrepreneurship courses at Oakridge International School, Hyderabad, Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai, and The Shri Ram School, Delhi. From case studies on global business models to product-market fit, from pricing strategies to presentation to investor, there were courses that equipped students with skill sets that will help them start their own ventures.

“This was a master class and children today feel they have some great ideas. This course gave their ideas a ground and a structure,“ said Pratibha Jain, an education counsellor.

Similarly , before breaking for the summer holidays, students of Podar International set up markets to sell their home-made produce. Negotiation skills they had learnt as early as class III and entrepreneurship is a part of the curriculum from grade VIII. “It’s an essential 21st century skill,“ said principal Vandana Lulla, in a matterof-fact tone. Little wonder that the state’s innovation council has also included schools in its start-up policy .

“Children have the maximum creativity and must be given optimum facilities and encoura gement to come up with innovative ide as,“ said principal se cretary Deepak Kapo or. His draft start-up policy speaks of provi ding start-up kits to stu dents of class VIII based on their aptitude and choice of sector.

City schools are do ing their bit to instil in students skills that would be on an entrepreneur’s must-have list. And, they are starting early . For in stance, at Nahar International School, Chandivali, a club run by students from class VI and VII sold lemonade, proceeds from which went to a municipal school. “Through the project, we introduce students to the cycles of entrepreneurship. They understand markets, customers, running a business, profit and loss, and planning,“ said principal Vandana Arora. “The success has built confidence in students and has set a foundation of being independent entrepreneurs in future.“

Nishant Garodia, director, PG Garodia School, which is setting up an incubation centre, said: “One opportunity is all that is needed for someone to develop a start-up. That’s why we are bringing an entrepreneurship learning programme to our students.“

And the children are proving adept. Tanmay Chopra from Cathedral and John Connon School, Fort, runs a social media campaign consultancy exclusively for start-ups. “I knew I could do more on social media than what my friends were doing. So I began self-educating myself.It helped me build a great portfolio,“ he said.

The toughest part was making cold calls to prospective clients and convincing them to believe in a 17-year-old. “With academics, I made sure I took up only one project at a time.But if work was more than I could handle, I employed my peers to freelance,“ said the class XII student who has been in the workspace for the past two years.

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