mariah suleman

Being a mother of two preschoolers, I realised that my children need more than just a regimented school routine, a world beyond gadgets and tasked assignments. I felt that they are missing out so much because they do not have a simple childhood that my generation had. They do not know the joy in building sand forts, having puppet shows, making bows and arrows, getting bruises and bloody knees, and having a blast. They are not immersed in childhood as simple as mine. I decided that no matter how hard and long it takes, I will make an effort to give them memories that are fun, real, and provide learning. As a lawyer by profession, I did not know much about entrepreneurship, but in 2018, I read a book on children’s entrepreneurship “Kidpreneurs” by Mathew and Adam Torren and decided to introduce this novel concept in Pakistan by having a small neighbourhood fair where children had their own business booths to manage.

The event was called “The Tinypreneurs Fair “(some call it the tiny entrepreneurs) where children were asked to make anything they want, bring to the fair and sell to customers.

It was reminiscent of funfairs we used to have as kids, but with a learning nudge. Children were not only exposed to entrepreneurship and public speaking, but they also polished their communication skills and got a boost of confidence in earning their own money.

I wanted everyone’s children, including my own, to feel in control of their respective spaces. The joy of getting your first pay-check, buying something from your hard-earned money, and sharing earnings with the underprivileged- financial bliss! My children, aged five and three, put up an apple and chocolate pie stall with their cousins, which was a super hit. They experienced all this goodness and had a great time mingling with other children. It was also a platform for meeting other like-minded families from a variety of schools of the twin cities. This is how the “Tinypreneurs Fair” came into being. We had our second fair in April 2019 with a bigger footfall, and the third one is coming up on Sunday November 24, at AQS arts and crafts gallery gardens.

These entrepreneurial fairs will help your children even if they do not want to own a business in the future.

The skills required to be the best in any career require a certain level of entrepreneurial exposure that is not being taught in schools today. I am talking about: Critical thinking, vulnerability, perseverance, grit, hypothesising, commitment, leadership, marketing and communication skills

All this can easily be woven into your child’s mind when he or she is putting up a stall at the Tinypreneurs fair. These entrepreneurial philosophies and traits can be easily adapted while having fun. Kids handle their own food, crafts, games, or lemonade stall, of course, younger kids will need parental supervision.

At home, we often use games involving role-playing to teach about transactions, roles, and responsibilities. Some kids set up clinics, stores, pretend to be at the cash till, and get out piggy banks to play with real money. View the same play through the lens of education and adventure, and teaching entrepreneurship, you will know the amount of brain stimulation your children will receive having their own business stands. We are thrilled to have some fantastic child entrepreneurs onboard this November. Some of them have their own Instagram handles and youtube channels. It is fantastic to see so much talent in such young children.

Lastly, while many parents are already teaching kids essential life skills that we do not often find on the docket of kindergarten classes in Pakistan. No textbook can teach you what real experiences can, and that is what I aim to provide to families, the unique entrepreneurial experience.

Whether your children earn at their stalls, or they run away to rides and games, leaving you to handle their booths, it will be an experience of a lifetime.

-The writer is an Islamabad based barrister at law and an entrepreneur