Mexico was ground zero for the first wave of the H1N1 virus last spring. However, the ensuing panic did not deter the will of the Mexican people. So it was interesting to read how another bug, entrepreneurship, has taken hold among some youngsters in the country.
Melissa Floca, an MBA student at Columbia University, provided a report about how she established a program in Mexico that instills the entrepreneurial spirit in middle-school students one of the poorer regions of the country. And the enthusiasm she got in return is an inspiring story.
More than any other force in the world, it’s the entrepreneurial spirit that can lift people out of their situations and drive new innovation. There are many ways this can happen. In a recent post, for example, Heather Clancy talked about the entrepreneur’s way around the funding dilemma, and how bootstrapping enterprises may be the best path to success.
Floca’s summer program, designed for 14-year-olds, wasn’t a dry review of case studies and theory, but rather, a “fun and interactive curriculum that teaches entrepreneurship through English language classes, art workshops, games and outdoor activities.” Guest speakers stopped by to share their experiences, including one of Mexico’s leading ice cream makers, in business for about 10 years.
The young campers also learned the four Ps of marketing (product, price, place and promotion), as well as the ins and outs of operating and financing a business. The camp was divided into groups, which came up with serious business plans for some unique ideas, including calendars featuring photos of local communities; a dance school; and an after-school tutoring service.
Whether it’s in an impoverished backwater, or within a division of a major corporation, teaching and instilling entrepreneurial thinking is smart business because it energizes people to think creatively and strive to build new forms of enterprise. This is the inspirational spirit that gave rise to Silicon Valley; this is what is reviving New Orleans, and this is will be the savior of calcified or moribund organizations.