Note: This article first appeared in the print and online version of Friday, a weekly glossy by Gulf News.
“Hi Ma’am!” says a cheerful voice. “Would you like to buy a brand new Smart Cards game? It’s the first of its kind, is ecologically friendly and fun to play,” says a 17 year old, showing me a pack of green cards with a flourish. A short distance away, I spot a large portrait of Marilyn Monroe finished in dusky hues, while another stall entices me with glittering handcrafted USB flash drives.
I was at the ARTE Market at Dubai Festival City late last year where a group of energetic youngsters from the Wellington International School came together to raise money for charity. Students-turned-entrepreneurs, they were keen to learn something “about how practical businesses operate in real life”.
Sajid Hussain, the teacher in charge of these students is the Curriculum Leader for Business and Enterprise at the Wellington International School. “We wanted to expose our students to the practical nature of the real entrepreneurial world to enhance their studies. To give the students this desired platform, we – Ms Lorraine McMullen (Subject leader for Economics) and I – created the ‘Business Enterprise Day,” he says.
Well before D-day, students were invited to pitch their ideas. Ten of the best ideas were picked after a rigorous selection process. Then the students were asked to continue with the development and production of their ideas. The pupils handled everything – right from the production, display and marketing to selling the products.
The most profitable stall was ‘One of a Kind’ a stall that sold handcrafted USBs, bracelets and headphones. They managed to raise Dh1,500 after covering their costs.
Another popular entrepreneurial venture was that of home-made (and eco-friendly) soaps called Scrubs & Scents. Claire Hall, one of the students managing the stall felt that the experience was an excellent one. “It is an event that allows you to think on your feet and really stretch you to new limits. We can understand the practical side of business that we learn in our textbooks and can safely experience failure and learn from these mistakes in a positive environment,” she says.
Rohit Zachariah, one of the students selling the Smart Cards game (which was adjudged the most innovative company by the school management), felt that he learnt valuable lessons about leadership, being creative, taking risks, organising events and working under pressure.
Raunak Bhojwani of Avgarde, a stall that marketed customised table mats, mouse pads and bookmarks, felt that the opportunity was a thrilling one because it gave the students the chance to run their own business.
“But,” she says, “What made it all the more remarkable was that the proceeds would be going to charity.”