Fifth-grade Entrepreneurs Invade Campus

“This is the best day of my life! Who knew making money could ever be this easy?”

Those were the words of Dahlia, an entrepreneurial fifth grader from Gardner Pilot Academy. Dahlia and 40 of her classmates invaded campus on April 14, launching business ventures that would make any TEM professor look twice. Armed with catchy business names (including True Blue Cupcakes and Pink Paradise Cookies), colorful posters, and irresistible sales pitches, the students launched six small businesses in the One Western common room. Their goal was to learn about entrepreneurship while raising money for their favorite charity: Animal Rescue Boston.

The students took part in a 2-day program called ‘The HBS Apprentice’ which began in 2010 after winning the SA Coop Community Leadership Award. On the first day of the program, HBS volunteers joined the fifth graders at Gardner Pilot Academy to teach them entrepreneurship basics.  Students learned the ‘4 Ps of Entrepreneurship’ (Product, Price, Promotion, People) and thought about how to apply them to make their business a success.

On the second day of the program, the Gardner students arrived at HBS brimming with excitement about selling cupcakes, cookies, and candy. The students were natural salespeople. They were easy to spot roaming around campus sporting their team t-shirts and confidently approaching any and every student or faculty member that crossed their path. Their hard work paid off – the six successful businesses raised a total of $680 in two hours!  When asked about what they had learned that day, students responded with, “it’s important to sell a product that customers are excited to buy,” and “it’s better to introduce yourself and be friends with a customer instead of just trying to sell them things.”

The hope is that ‘The HBS Apprentice’ will be the first step that inspires students to run lemonade stands over the summer, register for business classes in high school and college, and then one day be featured as case protagonists at Harvard Business School.

The Gardner students are grateful for the hard work of co-chairs Maurice Kuykendoll and Rawiah Abdallah as well as the enthusiasm of an amazing team of volunteers.


Monica Walker is a former fifth-grader and member of OF.  She plans to use her entrepreneurship skills in Silicon Valley at a start-up consulting firm called BCG.

April 25, 2011
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