NWACC program gives Springdale elementary students a lesson in entrepreneurship

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 394 views 

Fourth and fifth graders from Elmdale Elementary in Springdale got a taste of entrepreneurship Thursday (Dec. 10) when they set up a marketplace at NorthWest Arkansas Community College to sell products they created in the past few months with help from Service Learning students at NWACC. 

Fourth and fifth grade students from Elmdale Elementary in Springdale are getting a lesson in entrepreneurship in a program called E-3 which focuses on business enterprise.

Student teams of three and four were paired up with Service Learning students from NorthWest Arkansas Community College earlier this fall. The Elmdale students were tasked with creating a product they could make and then try and sell at the marketplace event held on the NWACC campus in Bentonville Thursday (Dec. 10).

“We were introduced to our teams back in September and we covered with them the basics of a business plan, (the Lean Canvas) and they were encouraged to create their product, search for the source materials and then come up a marketing plan,” said NWACC student Brad Nickell of Fayetteville.

Each student team received $100 in seed money from the community college which was used for product materials. The groups made their products and then set up a sales stand at the designated E-3 marketplace on the NWACC campus. The products on display Thursday included several different Christmas decorations, pencil holders, bookmarks, organizers, key hook plaques and craft jewelry.

One group of entrepreneurs selling the key hook plaques said they came up with the product idea because everyone they know is always misplacing their keys. 

Courtney Glemser, the Service Learning student paired with this group, said there were several hurdles they encountered in trying to bring the product to market. The low-cost hooks the team found online was not available in local stores, which meant they had to substitute with the Command brand hooks which were much more expensive and in short supply locally given their popularity around the holidays. The higher cost of the hooks sent their materials budget soaring.

“They spent $60 of their $100 on the hooks, which meant the product had to be priced higher than they hoped in order to turn the desired profit,” Glemser said.

She said the team also resorted to using form board, instead of cardboard for the key holder base and while they liked the stability and sturdiness of the foam board it was much harder to cut into the 10-inch by 12-inch shapes used as the product base.

Victoria Doradea, Yoselyn Mejia and Bryan Luons, fifth-grade students at Elmdale agreed the product had proved to be labor intensive. They made 46 of the key holder plaques which were on sale at the marketplace for $4 each. The team will need to sell all of their inventory if they are to have the profits they had hoped given their high material costs. One marketing tactic employed by this group was to have a few they claimed were “limited edition” and came with a $5 price.

A fourth grade team of Elmdale students found a way to boost their profit levels by getting the bulk of their source materials donated. The pencil holders they created were made from donated cardboard cylinders. Grance Anderson, the NWACC mentoring student, said the team spent just $30 on materials of the $100 they received in seed money. The pencil holders were priced at $1 with the larger holders costing $4. Their marketing tactic was to give away a free holder for every two a customer purchased.

This group made 60 pencil holders which would garner them more than $200 is gross revenue if they sell all that were made. When asked what the young entrepreneurs planned to do with their profits most said they would buy Christmas presents.

Kaitlyn Taylor has other plans. The fourth-grade business entrepreneur hopes to one day open her own bakery – Katie’s Kitchen – in which she plans to sell cakes, brownies and other sugary confections by the time she is 13. 

“I would save any money I earn from this project and put it toward the things I will need to open my own bakery someday,” she said.

Dr. Tim Cornelius, vice president of career and workforce education at NWACC, said this is great project for the college’s Service Learning students. He said the marketplace was moved back to the NWACC campus this year after trying other locations in prior years.

“Studies show that children who take part in business enterprises such as this will then do better in their future coursework and it also sows the seeds for entrepreneurism at a young age,” Cornelius said. “It’s a good fit for our Service Learning students. We have done this project for several years with Elmdale Elementary in Springdale. We will be adding another elementary in Rogers to this program in the near future.”

NWACC’s Service Learning program provide its students with ways to interact with the community. The Service Learning students receive recognition of their participation on their transcripts.