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French Version


Beyond the lemonade stand : Business fair encourages young entrepreneurs

The eleventh annual Junior Business Fair was held Saturday at Rainbow Island family entertainment center, where children ages eight to 15 had the chance to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills by running their own mini-businesses out of one of 60 stalls.

Judging from the huge amount of happy noise, the children enjoyed themselves immensely and perhaps picked up a little extra money as well.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for them to live an experience which is like real life," said Ola Gergers, one of the event's organizers.

"The event enables children to appreciate the value of money," she continued. "The amount of profit or loss they make depends entirely on them."

As well as obtaining the stock for their stall, children had to handle pricing and advertising, compelling them to come up with creative marketing strategies such as offering free gifts with purchases.

For many children, the fair was their first experience dealing with adults in a professional manner.

"Through negotiating with adults, they are learning how better to communicate and influence others," Gergers said. "It is improving the children's skills and personalities."

Yet it wasn't all about profit; many children said they planned on donating the money they made to different charities.

Tarek and Nour Nasreddine said they were giving all profits from their stall to the charities of St. Jude, which treats children with cancer, and Fista, a handicapped children's centre.

"We have everything we need, whereas others are sick and need help. We like to help," Tarek explained.

But Tarek was among the more experienced young entrepreneurs. The fourteen-year-old has been running his own enterprise since he was ten, raising hamsters, guinea-pigs and rabbits to sell to pet shops and friends. He said he had dedicated a lot of time and care to what started as a hobby.

Others learned an important lessen in the danger of over-pricing. Riwa Philipps, Karine Tannous and Raissa Khater soon realized that their lovingly painted pots, chairs and trays were precious to them but regrettably a bit too expensive for most.

Beirut 15-05-2006
Daniella Matar
The Daily Star



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