Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana's newest program will allow Fort Wayne's youngest entrepreneurs to sell products at the Three Rivers Festival for the first time.
The Young Entrepreneur Marketplace is open for students up to 21 years old. Lisa Kern, JA Entrepreneurial Initiatives coordinator, said almost 30 entrepreneurs – from first grade through college age – are signed up, and she encourages more to join.
“Really, it started with the idea of all these kids out there with businesses already existing,” Kern said. “And, for others, (do) you want to be an entrepreneur for the day? Try it out.”
Marketplace entrepreneurs will set up booths July 20 in Freimann Square to sell items and services from 1 to 4 p.m.
Students participating will sell fine jewelry, T-shirts, videographer services, baked goods for those with food allergies, a flower cart, graphic designs, calligraphy signs, dog and cat treats, hand-sown items, homemade dessert sauces and artistic works.
Jade Henry is among those participating. The rising sixth-grader started her own business, Art by Jade, when she was 9.
“I started (to draw) at 3,” she said, “and then I wanted to sell it.”
Jade also designs T-shirts and jewelry and has her own business cards. She is excited about the marketplace and plans on selling mostly jewelry.
“These are real businesses,” said Karen Cooper, director of JA BizTown and Entrepreneurial Initiatives. “This is not a garage sale. We have kids out there with their own websites and their own following.”
The young entrepreneurs will pay $25 each to rent a booth. Kern said she wants to ensure they “have some skin in the game.”
“It's the cost of doing business,” she added.
Though the marketplace has participants consider business startup costs, production costs and advertising in the sign-up questionnaire, Kern said it's really just an opportunity to learn.
“We're looking for kids that really either want to have some success with what they're already doing or to try it out and see if entrepreneurship is right for them,” Cooper said.
“And providing that venue for that to happen is the success, I feel.”