Sharaan Bhusa’s business plan is clear — with parents busy working from home, they need their kids to be “constructively engaged”. So, at the start of the lockdown in March, the 14-year-old from Kalakshetra Matriculation School launched ‘Dum Ta Ka’, where at `199 for five classes, he gives children percussion lessons, with whatever “drum-like” material they have at home.
“I send them video and audio recordings so that they can practise. I use the djembe, while those without drums use buckets, boxes, tumblers and spoons,” says the teen tycoon — well, he has earned `85,000 so far (all of which is going towards acquiring the gaming console of his dreams). The classes are still on, as is his bucket list of goodies.
They’re baking cakes, teaching yoga, talking coding — the lockdown and consequent shutting of school campuses seems to have opened the floodgates of entrepreneurship, with children as young as eight looking at ways to follow their passions, and earn a little either for themselves or to give to charity.
Since she was five years old, Mahika Madiaraju dreamed of opening her own café. But it was the lockdown that truly set her on the path. “I started taking orders in April, a few days after the lockdown began,” says the 10-year-old. From coffee walnut to lemon drizzle cakes, Mahika has taken 30 orders so far. “I’m donating everything to charity,” says the KC High student, adding that with school going online, it’s left her with a lot more time to focus on her business.
“It’s important to start teaching entrepreneurship at a young age,” says Namita Thappar of Young Entrepreneurs Academy, which works with children on developing their business ideas. “It equips them with lessons on financial management, and critical thinking and communication.”
Kids are naturally curious, says psychologist Sangeetha Madhu. “They have a willingness to explore, which is what entrepreneurship is all about. The kinesthetic or hands-on learners, are probably the ones who will follow this line,” she says.
Psychiatrist Dr Kannan Girish says the lockdown has opened his eyes to just how independent children can be, given the time and space. “The fact that on-campus school has not yet begun has resulted in children having the time to introspect. Most are not as dependent on parents and friends as they used to be and that is setting them on a journey of self-discovery,” he says. Dr Kannan found that some students who he counsels had taken on courses they found interesting, while others were building things. “Even my nine-year-old did a coding course during the lockdown, created nine games, and then went on to sign up students,” he says.
While Dr Kannan’s daughter Evanka shocked him with her coding skills, at another apartment complex in the city, eight-year-old Lasya Meena Money took her mother Mansi by surprise when she started yoga lessons for children in the building. “Through the lockdown, the adults would exercise on the terrace. After a while, I noticed that my daughter too was coming up there, and teaching asanas to the other children in the building. It became a daily class,” says Mansi. “Yoga keeps you fit and healthy and is a great start to the day. That’s why I wanted to teach my friends,” Lasya.
For most children, Mumbai-based kids life coach Jolly Priya says, online school is just a “tick in the box activity”. “It is not the ideal ecosystem of learning. But it has left children with time on their hands to really explore what they like doing. Over the last three months, in my sessions, I have come across children who have made masks, mastered culinary skills, and even sold rakhis accepting payment through apps. Kids know what is happening around them — the economic downturn, the job losses, the salary cuts. In the last three months, their sense of entitlement has come down a notch, while their value for money has gone up,” says Jolly. “This is the time to focus our energies on children and mentor them, help them follow a passion, and not just get on their case about spending too much time online.”