In one of my recent magazine shoots, for which I’d invited a Beijing-based businessman to a class of students learning entrepreneurship, he told them something that also struck a chord with me: “If you guys are learning about business, there’s no reason you can’t start businesses even at your age now.”
Beijing is a hotbed for entrepreneurial minds and a wellspring of opportunity – so long as you’re ready to take the chance. For students and young people, that chance comes early, because many progressive schools now include business or entrepreneurial studies in middle and high school; something that was limited in the education of their parents’ generation. And there’s no shortage of avenues where they can showcase their creativity and entrepreneurial talents.
We couldn’t be more excited for the young minds at Dulwich College Beijing (DCB), who will host the Dulwich College Enterprise Fair at their Legend Garden campus on November 3 (Sat). We asked Natalie Stevens, Head of Technology at DCB and the supervising teacher of the students leading the fair, about their preparations.
What’s the idea behind the fair?
Stevens: The Enterprise Fair gives those students currently taking STEM and Business Studies an opportunity to promote and sell products they have designed and manufactured and branded.
So how did the students prepare for the fair?
The students have had 4 weeks to plan their business, including pitching for a startup loan and writing their own business plan and proposal. The school has now given students funding based upon their business plan and loan request to source materials and build their businesses. They now have 8 weeks of time to trade to see how much money they can generate. These products will all be on sale throughout the event. The profit the students make will go towards sponsoring their major projects later in the year.
Organizing an event is such a big task, especially for first-timers. What were the areas that the students focused on in terms of putting this fair together?
They have been working incredibly hard to reach out to potential vendors to secure booking. They have created the branding and marketing for the event as well as worked in teams to secure sponsorship and will be on hand throughout the event, running logistics as well as their own business stalls. They have managed to secure support from some great Beijing based business and restaurants including Pie Squared, Hulu, Doko and many more.
How many students are joining the fair?
This year, we have 15 teams competing in this enterprise competition. Their business ideas range from creating desk organizers and laser cut toys and puzzles to 3D-printed USBs and even confectionery products. Year 11 STEM students are then in charge of organizing the event itself.
Why do you think it’s important for students to join this kind of project?
We really champion these types of projects at Dulwich. Allowing pupils to experience the same pressures and constraints as you would in the world of work really help to develop the pupil’s organization, communication, and many more crucial skills for the modern day world of work. Actually, working through a project such as this with real customers and clients and funding rather than a simulation allows the pupils to experience the entire process, they can celebrate their successes and learn how to troubleshoot and develop their ideas as they see immediate feedback. If an idea sells, they can invest more money and manufacture more of that product, if an idea doesn’t sell, they know immediately this needs to be developed. Parents have been very supportive of the projects, we will hopefully see a lot of visitors from our school community. I think that parents really enjoy being able to see the full iterations of their children’s ideas as well as seeing them interacting with potential customers.
What’s next after the fair?
We would love to expand the fair and involve groups of students from other schools next year, also include groups from the other schools across the Dulwich group.
Know more about the participating student enterprises and their product details here.
Dulwich College Enterprise Fair, Nov 3
All ages. Free admission. 10am-4pm. Dulwich College Beijing Legend Garden Campus. 北京德威英国国际学校 北京市顺义区首都机场路89号丽京花园7区.
Photos: Courtesy of Dulwich College Beijing