Poduzetni Limaci: Entrepreneurial Project Helping Croatian Kids

By 9 January 2022

January the 9th, 2022 - Poduzetni limaci is an educational initiative aimed at waking up the entrepreneurial and creative spirit in children. This type of education for young school kids in Croatia has been going on since back in October last year, and educated trainers run it.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, the Institute of Management in Zagreb which launched the Poduzetni limaci iniative last year claim that if we teach children from an early age to recognise opportunities with an emphasis placed primarily on social responsibility, solving social problems, improving systems or new approaches and solutions, we will build a society and new generations of entrepreneurs who will primarily strive to improve society.

The aim of the Poduzetni limaci project is to develop the entrepreneurial spirit of kindergarten children and school children from 1st to 4th grade of primary school through various activities, as well as to encourage them to create more responsible, positive changes in society.

The programme has been implemented since October last year in cooperation with the Maksimir Kindergarten and the Silvija Strahimir Kranjcevic Elementary School in the City of Zagreb. The test phase in the two educational institutions will last until March this year, after which they will see what needs to be improved in the programme.

The pilot programme

Following any tweaks, the implementation of the programme would start in other institutions, of which there are currently about ten interested. It represents a total of 35 school hours, and the training is conducted by trained coaches twice a week for 45 minutes for a period lasting for four months. The Poduzetni limaci programme is being implemented in partner institutions in cooperation with teachers and educators as mentors.

"At this moment in time, all those interested can apply. When we complete the pilot programme, evaluate the progress of the children, and accordingly revise it all, we'll offer it for implementation to kindergartens, schools, associations involved in children's education and interested private institutions that want to implement it. For the success of the implementation of the programme, it's extremely important to create a positive environment with the support of various stakeholders from within the system,'' they explained from Institute of Management.

The Poduzetni limaci project was led by the research entitled “Entrepreneurship and Initiative of Primary School Students in the Republic of Croatia: Population Perspective” developed by the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb and the Centre for Educational Research and Development.

The results of a sample of almost 17,000 4th and 8th grade primary school students living in Medjimurje, Varazdin, Krapina-Zagorje, Zagreb County and the City of Zagreb showed that the situation with the "entrepreneurial mindset" among kids in Croatia is extremely low. Only 2.1 percent of the surveyed students have an entrepreneurial profile, while 97.9 percent of them belong to non-entrepreneurial profiles. They also noticed a decline in the propensity for initiative and entrepreneurship in general.

“At the beginning of the programme, the children get better acquainted with the typical characteristics of an entrepreneur and an entrepreneurial type of person, they become aware of the entrepreneurial characteristics within themselves and their friends, and influence the development of entrepreneurial characteristics throughout the programme. They go through the entrepreneurial process experientially, putting themselves in the role of an entrepreneur who, with his team, recognises the problem, finds solutions and creates positive changes.

After the activities organised around the entrepreneurial process take place, the children participate in the creation of their first entrepreneurial initiative. They implement their solutions and realise from designing their own entrepreneurial project that entrepreneurs create new value and that they are really the bearers of positive changes that don't necessarily have to be aimed at meeting personal needs and goals but also social goals,'' they explained from the Institute of Management.

Learning through play

They also learn public speaking skills and come up with presentations for their entrepreneurial projects. After the activities, Poduzetni limaci educators keep a work diary in which they record observations for each child individually and observations from the activities they have carried out. The children also evaluate themselves and their educators, evaluating the commitment, effort and participation, as well as the activities and content of the workshops.

The Institute says that children respond best to activities in which they encounter people and real-life problems.

“For example, a visit to entrepreneur Iva Kumic who makes plush toys from children's drawings or a visit to the Dumovec animal shelter where children could experience and learn a lot about the type of life lived by neglected and abandoned animals, and thus recognise and develop a real sense of empathy. In addition, the children are most happy with those activities in which they learn through play, practical work, group work, some form of physical activity and so on. The most important thing is to focus on the children and their active involvement, and as little frontal work of the educators as possible,'' they poined out.

The Poduzetni limaci project was supported by university professors, as well as by various entrepreneurs with whom the Institute of Management is currently discussing models of cooperation in which they would co-finance the education of these children.

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