Student Aqeesha Lara Yusoff, has been selling stuff online since she was 12 years old. She is now 17.
“I’ve been selling stuff online for five years now (through the annual KL Children’s Business Fair) and hope to study to become an entrepreneur, ” says Aqeesha who goes to Acton Academy Kuala Lumpur.
The enterprising teen says that she was inspired by her mother who loves to cook.
“I grew up helping my mum in the kitchen and learning how to cook, sambal being one of the dishes I learnt to make from her. That’s why I decided to sell two types of sambal – vegetarian and non-vegetarian – at the recent KL Children’s Business Fair, ” she says.
“I chose sambal because it’s versatile and can be used in many types of dishes. The spice level can be customised from less spicy to extra spicy, and it can also last a long time (up to two months in the freezer), ” she adds.
She has also sold homemade soaps and serums in previous years, but wanted to try selling something more “local” this year.
Aqeesha is just one of the very many aspiring young entrepreneurs in Malaysia. There are many more innovative young people with the capacity for entrepreneurship and this is something that must be cultivated, says Acton Academy KL co-founder Dr Ewe Chun Te.
“When parents put their trust in their children, it enables them to unleash their inner vision, confidence and leadership skills for business, ” he says.
Fourteen-year-old student Dhanya Night aspires towards a career that gives her “autonomy and control over (her own) time”.
Night reveals that she hopes to pursue a career that will allow her to create new products and services.
She recently sold edible cookie dough online at the KL Children’s Business Fair.
“I’ve always enjoyed baking and wanted to create something unique, so I did a lot of research and brainstorming before coming up with this product, ” she says.
“There is a growing awareness in Malaysia about eating healthy, so I wanted to create a product that customers who crave something sweet can indulge in without feeling guilty, ” she adds.
“My edible cookie dough is made from chickpeas, oats, honey and peanut butter and comes in three flavours: original, choc chip and banana-almond. It's flourless/gluten free and has no added sugar, ” the innovative teen says.
“It helps to have a family that’s so supportive and they’re the people whom I can bounce ideas off, ” says the innovative teen.
“When children are trusted and given the opportunity to take charge and work on real projects, especially things that matter to them and their community, they are capable of more than we realise, ” Dr Ewe says.
“Also if children of all ages are allowed to intermingle freely as peers without age-based restrictions, they are able to learn from one another and find new ways to innovate, ” he adds.
Student Haidan Hazurin, 16, and avid ice-hockey player, believes that with a proper foundation, entrepreneurship is his calling.
Haidan, who loves music, graphic and product design and computer programming, says that he hopes to own his own business when he is older.
“I want to use my platform for good and I’ve learnt a great deal from my dad who is an accountant, and my mum who inspires me with her ideas, ” he says.
The creative teen has been putting his entrepreneurial skills to good use early.
He and sold custom T-shirts online and donated part of the proceeds to the Covid-19 Mental Health Relief Fund.
“Mental Health Awareness month was in May, and I wanted to help our frontliners better aid citizens who struggle with mental illness and addiction, ” he says.
“I’ve always dreamt of seeing my designs in real life - that is my vision - but at the end of the day, it’s still business and comes down to whether or not customers will buy your product, ” Haidan rationalises.
“That’s why I wanted to do some good for the society by offering a product that I’ve designed and that people will buy, so that it’s a win-win on both sides, ” he says.
Arjun Sharda Kharbanda, 12, wishes to be a YouTube entrepreneur when he grows up.
To do this, he needs to establish his own YouTube branding that can attract potential customers.
“Of course, I wish people to laugh and enjoy my videos too, ” he adds.
Business is important because it enables people to earn a living and also make profits, Arjun says.
“At the heart of it, businesses also provide jobs for people and helps them meet their basic needs of food, shelter and clothing, ” he adds.
He put this to the test during the recent KL Children’s Business Fair, which he has been participating in for four years in a row.
“I sold vegetable planting kits (online) this year because the MCO made me realise there can be a shortage of vegetables anytime and I wanted to help people start growing their own vegetables and learn gardening which is also good for the environment, ” he says.