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Young entrepreneurs preparing for first-ever children’s business fair in Idaho Falls next month

Business & Money

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IDAHO FALLS – Dozens of young entrepreneurs will gather in Idaho Falls next month for a business fair in hopes of standing out above the crowd.

The first-ever Acton Children’s Business Fair is happening at Tautphaus Park on Saturday, July 10. Organizer Candace Sekyere tells the purpose of it is to give kids an opportunity to showcase their business idea to the community.

“We have 26 businesses registered that were started by children between the ages of 6 and 17. That’s a total of 43 kids participating,” Sekyere says. “It’s like a farmer’s market-like event. They’re there to sell their product or service to the community.”

Sekyere says there are a wide variety of businesses that will be on display. Among them are several bath bomb vendors, treat shops with cotton candy, snow cones and similar items, as well as a painting and jewelry-making business.

One of the more unique businesses is called Wood Crafts owned by 9-year-old Tyson Brown. He’ll be selling sets of wooden playing cards at the business fair.

Tyson says the cards are thinly cut so they’re similar in width to regular playing cards. They’re designed to be generic so you can use them with many different games.

“There’s numbers on them but some have pictures (too). If you want to, you can customize them with a certain picture you want,” Tyson says. “I have black walnut and different types of wood. But we have also paperback — there’s paper on the back.”

Tyson lives in Boise where he attends private school. He started this business for a school project last year. He says he got the idea from his 2-year-old brother, who was always ripping and bending his regular playing cards.

“I was thinking, What if I just made wood ones? It’s harder for my little brother to break them,” he says. “If you bend these ones too much, they’ll snap. So you can’t mark them.”

He’s hoping his participation in next month’s business fair will allow his business to expand and grow.

Sekyere says many of the kids already had established businesses prior to this event. Others signed up with a desire to start their own business and have figured it out since then.

The Acton Children’s Business Fair is partnering with Kids in Focus Idaho, a local nonprofit that teaches kids how to start their own businesses. Sekyere says each participant just completed a workshop with the nonprofit this week and she’s looking forward to seeing them put their skills into practice.

“We’re encouraging everyone to come and support these kids,” says Sekyere. “We’re not charging any admission. We’ve got sponsors … to help us cover the costs. We’re doing it to give the kids some experience.”

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The fair is an event sponsored by the Acton Academy, a private school formed in Austin, Texas in 2009. Founders Jeff and Laura Sandefer started the school because they believed the current model of education in public schools wasn’t adequately preparing children to thrive in the 21st century.

“Our learner-driven (project-based) community believes every child is a hero who deserves to find a calling that will change the world,” the school’s website says.

As a former teacher, Sekyere agreed and was looking for an alternative in eastern Idaho. She began researching and learned there were more than 300 Acton Academy Schools around the world.

“When I saw that it wasn’t local — the closest one is actually in Boise — I knew I needed to bring this school (to eastern Idaho), not only for my daughter but for anybody else who wants a different education for their child,” says Sekyere.

She’s opening a school at 1980 West Broadway in Idaho Falls this September. She’s currently accepting applications for anyone interested in enrolling. Sekyere says they’re intentionally starting small with about 15 students total, so space is limited.

The Children’s Business Fair is an annual program for children enrolled in the school but Sekyere wanted to hold it this year to help introduce Acton Academy to the community.

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“It will always be open to children in the community, too. I’m an entrepreneur and I wanted to get this started for the kids. I’m super excited,” she says.

The kids participating in the business fair have worked really hard, Sekyere says, and she’s hoping there will be a good turnout from the community.

It’s happening Saturday, July 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. behind the ice arena at Tautphaus Park.

“Come down, be there and see (what these kids are doing),” Sekyere says.