Why supporting kid entrepreneurs might solve the world's problems

School’s out for summer! But that doesn’t mean ideas are on break. Help the creative kid in your life dive headfirst into entrepreneurship.


Caine built a sweet arcade and is inspiring kids to be entrepreneurs. How can you support them? (Photo credit: Caine's Arcade)

You probably already know the story of Caine’s Arcade thanks to this Internet film that I’m sure left tears of joy all over your keyboard.

If you didn’t see it, the story goes a little something like this: Caine is a nine-year-old boy who built a DIY cardboard arcade in his father’s used auto parts shop in Los Angeles. The games went unplayed until one day, a filmmaker named Nirvan happened to need a car door handle. He bought the first Fun Pass. Then made a film.

Fast forward a few months later and Nirvan’s film has garnered Caine thousands of fans from around the world, inspired countless kids to make arcades of their own, generated a theme song, and get this, raised $500,000 for Caine’s college scholarship fund.

But not every little kid is as lucky as Caine.

Caine’s Arcade has made me more aware of the fact that there are budding entrepreneurs running around us everywhere — even though we might think they’re just listening to Justin Bieber and making awkward jokes.

So how we can help them bring their ideas to life? Besides heaps of encouragement, patience, and knowledge, here are some ways to get that creative kid in your life some dough to play with:

  • Caine’s Arcade Imagination Foundation: With help from the Goldhirsh Foundation, the newly founded foundation’s goal is to “find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in young kids.”
  • YesKidzCan: Their Social KidPreneurz Program gives kids in grades 3-8 the opportunity to receive $100 to start their own business, with proceeds going to a cause of their choice.
  • Ashoka Youth Ventures: Once limited to the U.S. but now expanding internationally, this nonprofit “inspires and invests in teams of young people to design and launch their own lasting social ventures.”

It’s not just money that’s needed; we also need a shift in thinking. “If we can get kids to embrace the idea of being entrepreneurial at a young age, we can change everything in the world that’s a problem today,” says Cameron Herold in a TED talk about raising kids to be entrepreneurs.

He’s got a point: they might just be the ones with the brilliant ideas to help the needy or save animals from extinction.

So think about the Caines in your life. Are you game to help him or her succeed?


For fun: Check out 10 Things 80s Kids TV Taught Me About Being a Social Entrepreneur on Pinterest.

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Morning links: Pinterest for nonprofits, tech for good

Eye candy and food for thought from our Facebook feed this morning:


Screen capture of the pinboard "Nonprofit Organizations" curated by NonprofitOrgs

  • Nonprofit Organizations on Pinterest: Thinking about Pinterest for your organization? Take a look at the boards Heather Mansfield (aka the human behind Twitter feed @nonprofitorgs and facebook.com/nonprofitorgs) has created: Inspiring Social Good & Causes, Shop for Good, Technology & Fundraising, and more.
  • Ten technology-for-good ideas via The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “…accomplishments of the 10 people who will be honored next month for their social-change work by organizers of the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Tex. Meet the advocate who is using mobile technology to promote gay marriage, a volunteer who is restoring tsunami-damaged photographs in Japan, people who are improving health care in poor countries, and many others.”

What headlines, tweets, or tools caught your eye today?

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Submit your idea. Create more jobs. Win $50,000.

Right now, over 200 million people are without a viable way to make a living, and millions more are in less-than-desirable working conditions around the globe.

Yet it’s not hopeless. With so many brilliant entrepreneurial minds out there, Ashoka’s Changemakers and the eBay Foundation believe solutions are possible.


Image via changemakers.com

The Powering Economic Opportunity: Creating a World that Works competition is open to individuals, organizations and collaborations who think they have what it takes to create sustainable employment opportunities in vulnerable communities around the world. Anyone can submit their idea in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese.

Five winners will each receive US $50,000. The deadline to submit is June 15. Enter the Changemakers-eBay Empowering Economic Opportunity Competition here:


Stand-out entries will be those that have shown impact, are ready to be replicated elsewhere, and play nicely with others to expand their reach. The creativity is astounding so far. There’s everything from a historic center in Cuba to a farming magazine in Tanzania to a women’s swimming project in Sri Lanka.

So, entrepreneurs: get to it. Employ your imagination, and be a part of helping to bring the jobless millions down to zero. Coming up blank? Share your opinions on the entries themselves, and wage your bets on the best ideas by voting for who will make it to the first round.

Update, 5.13.2011: Ashoka Changemakers recently let us know about a new way to participate in the competition: ChangeSpotting. Until May 25, ChangeSpotters can nominate organizations and social entrepreneurs who are already creating jobs. All you need to do is take a picture of yourself with their logo, or something that makes it clear who you’re nominating, and send it to connect@changemakers.com or upload it to your Facebook or Twitter account. Five randomly selected ChangeSpotters will each receive a $50 gift card to WorldofGood.com.

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Ashoka's Roundup of Social Entrepreneurship News

Each week, the blog team at Ashoka posts This Week in Social Entrepreneurship, a roundup of articles about “individuals and organizations creating systematic and lasting change through social entrepreneurship and enterprise.” This week’s column includes information about the 2010 Echoing Green fellowship recipients; a nonprofit highlighting local changemakers in Haiti; and, in the midst of World Cup fever, the Changing Lives Through Football competition, among many other great links.

We’ll be following this column closely because when we launch our brand new website this fall, social entrepreneurs will be able to create accounts and begin listing job opportunities, resources, and much more. Idealist has long been a place that welcomes nonprofits and community groups to post their opportunities for action. We recognize that nonprofits are not the only outlet for creating change these days, and we are looking to expand the scope of our site and the opportunities available here. We see social enterprises as a great way to start. Expect more details as the launch date gets closer…

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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