Franco Arturo Canseco came up with the idea of a robotic spinal column and a solar desalinator before his sixth birthday. At the age of seven, he drew a sketch of a neutonic band that helps people get to sleep. In July 2019, he received an investment of 2.5 million pesos from the entrepreneurship program Shark Tank Mexico for this project.
Finally, he launched pre-orders for his product last February. This kid from La Paz, Baja California Sur, expected to sell 100 units over one weekend, but sold them all in a single day.
Mildred Berrelleza, Regional Director of the Academic Department of Entrepreneurship for Tec de Monterrey’s Central Region, explains that this 11-year-old entrepreneur belongs to a new generation of children in Mexico who are exposed to different stimuli aimed at developing their entrepreneurial skills, both at school and at home.
“Entrepreneurship starts at home when we teach our kids to solve problems, by teaching them to resolve them in different ways. It’s also being reinforced at certain educational institutions, which have placed a lot of emphasis on enabling children to have access to entrepreneurship programs that teach them the value of work and money, as well as problem solving,” adds Berrelleza.
From an early age, Franco Arturo has been curious about inventing solutions and has always had his parents’ support. “What we did was provide him with the tools. All children are creative by nature, but your have to provide them with the instruments that enable them to develop creativity and motivate them to improve an idea and strengthen it,” says Érika Rodríguez, this entrepreneur’s mom.
To create the neutonic band, the result of a night of insomnia, Franco Arturo investigated for three years and spoke to medical specialists. His parents even encouraged him to take part in innovation contests so that his proposal wouldn’t stay in the drawer. He took part in one of these contests with the neutonic band and achieved seventh place, which motivated him to improve it until it became the product it is today.
The Business School at the Querétaro campus of Tec de Monterrey created the Entrepreneurship School program in order to encourage children’s creativity, self-sufficiency, and personal initiative. This program, set up in collaboration with the state’s Elementary Education Services Unit, teaches valuable skills to students aged 6 to 12 at public elementary schools.
“The program’s raison d’être is the development of an entrepreneurial spirit with these skills, which will serve them in their professional and personal lives,” says Romain Pouzou, Regional Director of Innovative Social Entrepreneurship for the Tec’s Central Region.
The generalized incorporation of entrepreneurial education, which includes knowledge and skills, in elementary and junior high school education programs has been a priority issue on the global agenda for at least a decade. “Exposure to entrepreneurship education throughout an individual’s lifelong learning path, starting from youth and continuing through adulthood into higher education – as well as reaching out to those economically or socially excluded – is imperative,” reported the Global Education Initiative of the World Economic Forum.
The Entrepreneurship School works to teach students nine fundamental skills, including self-confidence, persistence, and tolerance of failure. Those teachers involved in the program have identified substantial changes in their students, who show more creativity, construct their own opinions, and are more innovative. Pouzou believes it is important to make changes to the education system so as not to lose this progress, in order that the children graduating from this model have the necessary tools to nurture this fertile ground when they go on to junior high.
The Entrepreneurship School has been running for two academic cycles. 12 teachers from the Tec have taken part, as well as eight public schools in Querétaro and their 38 teachers and 1,180 students. The plan is to extend this program to other cities in the central region of Mexico in the next school period.
How to Encourage Children to be Entrepreneurs
- Create an environment where children feel safe to talk about their ideas and dreams.
- Suggest they play financial and business simulation games. There are a variety of options online.
- Encourage them to find solutions to everyday problems they face at home.
- Stimulate their imagination by asking them what other uses they could find for common objects.
- Ask them to use devices in moderation and chiefly to answer their questions.