Young entrepreneurs

When you think about ‘entrepreneurship’ what images are conjured up? It’s unlikely that whatever you’re picturing will be in a school or classroom environment, but this is exactly where teachers are encouraged to sow the seeds of the start-ups of the future.

Boosting High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Australia, released by the Office of the Chief Scientist in 2015, talks about the need to encourage an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ at all levels of education – starting with primary schools. It says the pop culture view that entrepreneurs are rogue geniuses who manage to make it in business ‘without, or in spite of, education’ is simply not true.

What’s happening in other countries?

  • UK charity Young Enterprise runs the Fiver Challenge for primary schools, where every student is given £5 (around $10). They are challenged to set up their own mini business, creating a product or offering a service they can sell or provide for a profit. After one month they pay back the funding and a suggested ‘legacy donation’ of 50p, and keep any profit.
  • One of the WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) Award winners for 2015 was a Ugandan project focusing on developing leadership and entrepreneurship skills. The country already has a national entrepreneurship curriculum. Its Educate! Experience project is a partnership involving secondary schools, reaching more than 90 000 students in five years.
  • The Chief Scientist’s report highlights work in South Korea, where the Korean Creative Economy initiative includes entrepreneurship education for primary to tertiary students. A similar initiative exists at a school level in Singapore. Report author Colin Kinner (Director of Spike Innovation) also singles out Israel and the US as examples of other countries where entrepreneurship programs are offered in schools.

In the report, Bill Bartee, Partner at Blackbird Ventures says: 'Kids need to know that starting and building a business can be a fun, rewarding life path. Education on how to become an entrepreneur has to start early at home and in school when kids first set up their roadside lemonade stand ...’

He cites a study (Huber, Sloof & van Praag, 2012) into the effect of primary school entrepreneurship programs. [It] found a significant positive effect … on skills such as persistence, creativity and pro-activity.’

Huber, L.R., Sloof, R., & van Praag, M. (2012) The effect of early entrepreneurship education, Institute for the Study of Labor, Discussion Paper No. 6512.
Office of the Chief Scientist, (2015). Boosting High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Australia: Spike Innovation.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Teacher magazine and has been reproduced with the permission of the Australian Council for Educational Research. To read the full article and to read more articles like this visit