Kids continue to prove they can be their own boss.
Houstonian Candace Okin certainly believes this. So, she launched the children’s book “Mason Makes Money” to make key concepts of entrepreneurship and money management digestible to the youth.
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Okin knew there was a need for “Mason Makes Money” after financial hardships, which stemmed from being laid off unexpectedly in 2019. Rather than soaking in a feeling of defeat, Okin decided to rise above. She also wanted to set a good example for her son by turning the situation into a teachable moment.
“I experienced financial hardship when I lost my job. I was laid off unexpectedly. I have a son and even though I knew that he was too young to understand what was going on, he was still watching me. I still felt like I was his model for adulthood. I wanted to rise to the challenge that I was facing as best as possible because a lot of what we carry into adulthood, stems from our childhood,” Okin told AfroTech. “Understanding and realizing that was difficult, but also an opportunity to create a teachable moment for my son. I wanted to create something that was in a digestible format for him as a child and would help him learn from my mistakes and be smarter with managing money. So, I wrote and published that book in 2020.”
Okin wanted to keep the spirit of her book alive. She then scaled her efforts and launched the nonprofit Mason Makes Money Fund in 2020. Here, kid entrepreneurs are supported through an arsenal of resources such as in-person workshops held throughout the community and a new vertical on its platform called Kidpreneur Konnection. The free one-hour bi-monthly virtual program will connect entrepreneurs from across the country and enhance the minds of participants to help them successfully navigate the business world.
Okin is also investing in children’s businesses through three grants totaling $500 each. The financial resource launched this year and has already awarded two recipients: Madyson Johnson, founder of Maydson Amour Cares Collection, and Mishael Fontenelle, founder of Little Legacy Heroes. The funding is a stepping stone to further supporting their vision.
“I know our economy is not the same as it was when I was coming out of school. So, we have to be resourceful and we have to be creative with the ways in which we sustain our lifestyles, especially with the new and upcoming generation and this global marketplace.”
She continued: “It’s just essential that they understand their options. To see so many kids, as young as seven and eight, who are serious about a pathway to entrepreneurship at that age, it’s inspiring. How can you not get behind that? So, I wanted to showcase to them that if your heart is in it, you will be supported.”
To reinforce her support, Okin still wanted to share additional knowledge on how the recipients should manage the capital for their business. Therefore, she provides a session for the kid entrepreneurs to be coached by board members on business strategies.
“Financing and securing capital for your business is really hard, even for adults. It’s a learning process. So, not only did I want to open up the opportunities for kids with this grant, I wanted each step in our process to be a learning opportunity for their next step, beyond just receiving a grant. So, as they continue on in their entrepreneurial journey, they are seeing opportunities that they are already accustomed to and it’s easier and accessible to them as a result of that,” Okin said.
What’s more, Okin is just scratching the surface of what she hopes to push forward with the Mason Makes Money Fund. The nonprofit has already helped at least 50 children, and Okin hopes to expand the nonprofit’s reach.
As Okin looks ahead, she plans to host a conference for students to receive mentorship and build on the principles of entrepreneurship and business. In addition, she will be releasing a workbook that will be available for download by the end of the year. Children will be exposed to concepts such as customer service, business planning, and budgeting, among others.
For now, Okin will be awarding one more grant winner and applications are still open until Nov. 1.
To apply, click here.