Young entrepreneurs put their ideas to the test

Blake Ackiss, 11, participates in the Raleigh Children's Business Fair. (Carolina Journal photo by Dallas Woodhouse)

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  • What: Raleigh Children’s Business Fair When: 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, October 8, 2023 Where: Midtown Park North Hills in Raleigh

The annual Raleigh Children’s Business Fair is coming to Raleigh this weekend.

This year’s fair is free to attend and will allow children ages 6-14 to advertise and sell their products to the public. In past fairs, children have sold items like holiday decor, jewelry, baked goods, and artwork, which are eventually judged at the end of the event and awarded prizes based on their “presentation, customer service, and concept.”

“The Raleigh Children’s Business Fair, through teaching entrepreneurship, instills leadership, courage, and responsibility in young hearts and minds,” said Jacob Chace, a Blundell Fellow at the Pope Foundation, during an interview with the Carolina Journal. “We really make sure that the kids are taking the lead on the project and that it is their project and their idea. We try to ensure that the kids are doing the work and learning those important business skills.”

The 2023 edition marks the 6th year of granting Raleigh’s young people an opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurship. Each year, these children begin the daunting process of launching their startup by making a brand, creating a product, and then selling it to the fair’s attendees. The fair opens Raleigh’s children to the increasingly complex business world, setting them on an early trajectory for success later in life. 

The fair is hosted each year by the John William Pope Foundation, a Raleigh non-profit dedicated to “advancing the ideas of limited government, individual freedom, personal responsibility, and strong communities.”

The Pope Foundation was founded in 1986 by John William Pope and his wife, Joyce Pope, to improve the lives of all North Carolinians through charitable donations in public policy, education, humanitarian work, and the arts. It also is a donor to the John Lock Foundation, the founding organization of Carolina Journal.

Like other similar fairs across the country, the Raleigh Children’s Business Fair was created as part of a broader national program designed by the Acton Academy. The Acton Academy was founded in 2010 in Austin, Texas, by Laura and Jeff Sandefer to facilitate “highly personalized, self-paced, learner-driven education” by creating national “micro-schools.” To achieve this stated goal, Acton employs programming like the Raleigh Children’s Business Fair to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit within young people, showing children how they can secure a brighter future for themselves and their families.

For questions and more information about the fair, please visit the Children’s Business Fair’s Facebook page or their website to join their mailing list for information on future fairs.

Sherman Criner is an intern with the Carolina Journal and attends Duke University.