Does the concept of MBA, abbreviation for Master of Business Administration, pop in your head when you think about children education? Does this seem an impossible word clash between the adult and children’s worlds? Hardly so, as the widely-discussed need to introduce entrepreneurship education at an early age has sparked a genuine public interest in educating the future innovative thinkers and inspired a number of respective educational models, though branded with a generic label of “business education”. While it might appear that the “business education” concept for kids follows a narrow definition of entrepreneurship education – solely learning how to establish and run an enterprise – it is not quite so. Many business courses for young learners do not only teach them about the basics of economics and management, but address the development of a diverse range of soft skills needed to succeed in virtually any sphere of their lives, such as emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, creative thinking to name a few.
Momentarily, specialized entrepreneurial courses for children are rather scattered and in vast majority are extracurricular – while their popularity has reached some parents, it is yet to reach public school education curricula around the world. In this blog, we introduce you a number of privatized on-site and online schools and courses, which bring children of different ages a taste of entrepreneurship and attempt to popularize entrepreneurship education at schools with their tailored curricula.
Children Private Business Schools – MBAs for Kids around the world
“As a society we still rely on kids learning business stewardship through trial and error. It is hardly surprising that so many promising new businesses fail” – prof. Mark Warson-Gandy, Founder of KidsMBA School in the UK.
On a quest to uncovering the root causes of the high start-up fallacy rates among adults in the UK, Prof. Mark Warson-Gandy found himself among the early advocates of the need to imbue entrepreneurship within children’s natural learning curve. Through gamification and role playing divided in 3 tracks, the young future entrepreneurs learn business hard skills (e.g. business planning, financing, leadership, corporate responsibility, etc.) as well as transferable soft skills, leadership, communication, among others. The learning path offered by KidsMBA is rather flexible – from a Fast Track 2-days intensive course, to a semi-online course leading to a final exam and Star Performer Trophy – the formalized acknowledgement of completion of KidsMBA programme. Notably, KidsMBA offers a special entrepreneurship programme for schools, providing both the teacher and the students with the course curriculum and training materials.
The word play on “MBA” and “kids” has proven to be quite popular around the world, when a simple google keyword search will most probably return a number of seemingly similar programmes stemming from different initiatives. So much as to MBA Kids International, which is not to be confused with KidsMBA – similar learning goals encased in different modular systems. A large international franchise, currently running across 4 countries (Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Azerbaijan) offers entrepreneurship education to children as early as 6 years old. This franchise’s educational provision and covered thematic areas are rather broad and comprehensive, generally divided according to levels (from beginner to advanced). Interestingly, the franchise’s programmes in different countries are somewhat contextualized to the local population’s needs and accessibility: for example, the Brazilian programmes introduce Entrepreneur 4.0 , shorter financial, time-management and leadership courses, while the schools in Ukraine and Azerbaijan have yearly courses of different levels tackling almost every skills from the entrepreneurship education textbooks. The school in Kazakhstan, however, shows its emphasis on communication and leadership skills development.
Another MBA Kids franchise example is based on the MatrixCareer business-education programme, originating from Russia, but spreading around Post-Soviet Union countries. With such modules as “Responsibility”, “Well, in the end, it does appear that “MBA Kid” concept has become a collective term for identifying corporate business schools for kids.
More examples of similar private schools and extracurricular centers that run on a global stage include MINIBOSS Business School and TeachingKidsBusiness. While serving as a useful extracurricular activity and a learning possibility for the students, those fee-based courses might not be fully accessible to some less-fortunate population groups. That is where the booming online education trends come to rescue.
Virtual Business Courses for Kids
Self-paced virtual business courses for kids allow parents, children and school teachers to access business school-like experiences and learning materials online from the comfort of their own home and on a reduced fee. While undeniably limited with a lack of the group work and interaction, the virtual children business education providers do tend to create an engaging learning environment for the kids through online mentors, online interactive audio group exercises, videos and games, etc.
FunFinanceAcademy is tailored for younger kids and offer introductory lessons not only into the world of business, but adulthood. While the name of the provider incorporates “finance academy”, the educational programmes do not only revolve around the talk about money. The online module “Business Basic”, for example, expands on the types and roles of businesses, highlights the stories from kidpreneurs (children entrepreneurs), and introduces social responsibility concepts and more. Another example, Kidpreneurs Academy – Entrepreneurship Course for Kids 7-12 by Udemy, the world’s largest online learning platform, incorporates the hand-on project approach to introduce the children to the world of entrepreneurship.
Unfortunately, the virtual business education for kids might, in many cases, be limited to basic introductions to the world of business and focus on gaining specific economic knowledge, rather than serve as a basis for developing transferable entrepreneurship skills. Without clear guidance from “real” mentor, lack of peer-learning and real-life experiences, the online learning paths can be a valuable addition to the child’s entrepreneurial learning path, but not the substitutes of a more structured and integrated hands-on approach at the educational institution.
What about the public schools?
While the above mentioned MBA for kids courses’ curricula are also offered to the schools, and the teachers can potentially incorporate the available online courses into their daily teaching, there are providers who tailor their courses exclusively for schools. Virtual Enterprises (VE) International, for example, “offers programmes that provide all students with authentic, collaborative, immersive business and entrepreneurial experiences”. In addition to creating the online (and offline) content for high schools, VE International collaborates with the businesses representatives to bring the real experiences on board. Another initiative in the US, Maker Kids Club, provides a set curriculum for teachers to run their own Kidpreneur club at their school.
To benefit from these initiatives, one will need to acquire the membership on an institutional or individual levels. Without a doubt, financial constraints as well as the lack of awareness of the practicing teachers about the advantages of early age entrepreneurship education limit the popularization of the courses at public schools. Our project aims to address the root of this issue by popularizing entrepreneurship education and creating the relevant open access resources for the aspiring teacher – hence the students in initial teacher education programme. We do hope that via addressing our future teachers, we can widen the access of the children to entrepreneurship education initiatives and help raise a new generation of entrepreneurs in Europe.
Learn more about the courses and initiatives mentioned in the blog: