Children ages five to 17 took part in the first Children’s Business Fair in 2021. The event is back this year.
Written by Frank Lopez
The Made in Clovis marketplace and expo will host the Children’s Business Fair for the second year Sept. 24-25, giving Valley kids the opportunity to learn business practices from hands-on experience.
It comes after a successful inaugural event last year, which saw around 50 children selling everything from succulent plants to homemade jewelry.
First introduced to the Valley by local entrepreneur and mother Mykel Suntrapak, the Children’s Business Fair is geared towards helping change the way young people learn about business practices.
The program, originally founded in Acton, Texas, in 2007, has grown to see worldwide recognition, with business fairs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and as far as the United Kingdom, Romania, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia and other countries.
“I found this part of their program to be suitable for me — I am an entrepreneur — and I really believe in what they believe as far as all the education and skills that you can gain from this program,” she said, explaining that she originally investigated the program when searching for educational tools to use with her son. “For him to do it hands-on with his peers made that education so much more rich.”
This year, at a workshop event for new and returning attendees, the young entrepreneurs met with experts from Clovis marketing firm Top Hand Media, as well as Noble Credit Union, and received a motivational talk from local speaker Mia Natalia, who suffered a life-changing spinal injury in 2017.
“I wanted kids to see how they can build resilience and be inspired and stay motivated,” Suntrapak said.
With only a $20 registration fee, children can learn from investments at a minimal cost. Suntrapak said the $20 includes tables, linens and chairs for the day, and teaches the children that businesses require initial investment.
Registration for the event opened in late June.
“I want them to have a buy-in,” Suntrapak said. “Just like anything else, there’s an investment for every business; it’s very minimal, but I want them to have an investment.”
Parents are encouraged to participate in supporting roles and let the children take charge.
“We want the kids to do the work, but we also realize that a lot of these kids are five or six years old,” said Shawn Miller, Business Development Manager at the City of Clovis. “The older the kids get, we appreciate it if it’s just the kids working on it and the parents kind of step back.”
Suntrapak added that the parents’ main responsibility is to support their kids, encouraging parents to “cheer them on,” but to allow the children to make the main choices and decisions.
Aside from the booths at ClovisFest, Suntrapak is hoping that other vendor fairs around Fresno and Clovis will be able to accommodate the children and booths as well, adding that last year, several of the children who participated were also able to host booths at the Clovis Farmers’ Market.
But mainly, the event is geared towards education — teaching children the basics of running a business from initial investment to finished product.
“Some of these kids are real young too,” said Miller. “Five-year-old kids all the way up to 16 or 17 years old.”
The event is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital, Clovis Chamber of Commerce, Me-n-Ed’s, the City of Clovis, Inspiration Transportation, Four Seas Construction, Reading Heart, Central California Parent, and the Libertarian Committee.
The Children’s Business Fair and Made in Clovis will both take place during ClovisFest on Sept. 24-25.