Twelve-year-old Ella may look like an ordinary kid, but she thinks like an entrepreneur. This story is part of a Globe Edge series on Generation Z and the future of jobs.
Ella sells cute, homemade wool pom-pom bookmarks in her hometown of Vancouver. She donates all her sales to the Southlands Therapeutic Riding Society, a local non-profit that provides horseback riding programs for cognitively or physically disabled children and adults. Ella has raised more than $3,700.
“Whenever I’m unsure about what to do,” she says in a YouTube video made about her business, “I look at my list of the business values I hold deeply, and that determines my actions: to have fun, to always learn, to lead by example, to build good relationships with others and to make a positive change.”
Ella developed her project using entrepreneurial principles she learned at the two-year old Startup Skool summer camp. The camps give hands-on education in entrepreneurship, design thinking and technology to kids aged eight to 18 – a large chunk of Generation Z, the name given to those born after the mid-1990s up to the early 2010s. Startup Skool runs camps in Vancouver, Victoria and Burnaby.
“A lot of them want to work for non-profit or social enterprises,” says founder Kim Cope of the type of kids who come to the Startup Skool. “That’s a big focus for them.”
Professor François Brouard is the founding director of the Sprott Centre for Social Enterprises, a research centre focused on businesses driven by social missions. He sees that same interest in humanitarian pursuits among many of the Millennials he teaches at Carleton University, but wonders if that drive might be even stronger in Gen Z, who are beginning and currently attending undergraduate programs.
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