Friday, April 1, 2011

Young Entrepreneurs Competition: No Lemonade Stands Here!

When I wanted to make a little cash as a high school student I had a few options: bake sale, babysitting, or even a few extra household chores.  Times have changed for the 2,500 students participating in the Young Entrepreneur competition held at Dubai Mall this week.  Dubai SME, the entrepreneurship development agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED), launched the "Young Entrepreneur Competition (YEC) .  In a surprisingly sophisticated set up, the corridors of Dubai Mall are lined with small kiosks that students can decorate and augment to set up their own businesses in a head to head revenue generating competition.

Matt and I have enjoyed perusing the projects for the past three years and this year we couldn't believe how much the initiative has grown!  In 2008 there were 102 projects and 103 participants, in 2009 there were 279 projects and 971 participants.  Last year saw an overwhelming participation in the competition with 2000 participants and 700 projects.  With 2,500 students participating this year, things have really taken off.

One of our favorite concepts took center stage last year.  A group of enterprising young men set up a paint ball range next to the Dubai Fountain and let you wail on them for small fee, as they ran back and forth from the safety of the edge.  Ouch!

This year while strolling the packed walkways (it is the place to see and been seen by high school students this week) we saw some amazingly creative offerings!  A 3D sky dive experience (harness and all), make your own chocolate stations, custom silkscreen t-shirts, hand painted iPhone covers, photo booths, and more!  Then there are the kids who are the lucky beneficiaries of parents who own trading companies - one student was simply selling the most recent Blackberry for 25% off market prices.  He was legit.
Something special caught my eye this year.  Those of you nostalgic enough to remember your elementary library time might remember the "Mr." and "Little Miss" series by Roger Hargreaves.  You know - Little Miss Chatter Box, Little Miss Sunshine, Mr. Noisy, etc.
One enterprising young man decided to add a few local touches to some of my favorite characters by adding a burqa to Little Miss Sunshine and a dishdash to Mr. Strong.  I had to have them! 
Now I can fill them with lemonade when I start my stand!

1 comment:

Pam said...

I really love this time of year - I discovered this last year.. I blogged about it.. it was a week day and I was overly surprised at how many of the family helpers were working the booths.. I did not see any this year, so I think there could have been some changes in the rules. Its great to see what the kids come up with!