Savvy Scouts are taking care of business

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Sage Korte (right), 8, from DuVall Elementary School in Dearborn, works with team members to create a display to present their small business idea while earning the Junior Girl Scout Business-Wise badge.

Sunday Times Newspapers

DETROIT – With the help of DTE Energy, savvy Scouts are learning that being in business means more than selling cookies, and green is more than a uniform color.

The Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan and DTE Energy’s Women of Finance teamed up Nov. 5 at DTE’s downtown headquarters to hold a five-hour Taking Care of Business Financial Literacy Day for more than 150 Junior Girl Scouts in fourth and fifth grades to earn the Business Wise badge.

Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan Director of Public Relations Yavonkia Jenkins said that council-wide events let girls decide what to participate in and help them develop leadership skills. She said Girl Scout activities are designed to help girls develop a strong sense of self and healthy relationships and empowers them to make a difference in the world.

Each table of girls at the event worked with a volunteer adult team leader from DTE Energy’s Women in Finance group.

After the girls discussed in their small groups the pros and cons of owning a business versus working for an established firm, they heard from four adult panelists – two business owners and two corporate employees – about their experiences. The girls were encouraged to ask questions afterward.

The panelists included DTE Energy Executive Director of Corporate Services Heather Koenders and Vice President and Chief Tax Officer JoAnn Chavez, as well as Cat Massof, the owner of Kitty Deluxe, a gift store in St. Clair Shores, and Shirley Sammut, a former Subway franchise owner.

Teen volunteer Nikki Turkus,16, of Grosse Pointe Woods, enjoyed listening to the panelists answer questions from the Girl Scouts, and said she learned a lot.

When the girls returned to their workgroups after hearing the panel discussion they created their own small businesses. After coming up with a product, the girls talked about possible customers, start-up money, advertising and cash flow.

The teams also created a cost and profit worksheet for their selected group product and an action plan to start their business. The small groups also did impromptu skits among themselves to learn about handling money and working together in a business setting.

After lunch the hands-on activities continued with the girls using bags of craft materials to make products for their “store,” creating signage on a poster board and creating a 30-second jingle or commercial to perform later for the rest of the gathering.

After presenting their commercials, the participants used Girl Scout bucks to buy products from the other groups.

Cassidy VanEvery, a 9-year-old fourth grader at Anderson Elementary in Trenton said their group decided to create a 24-hour flower shop called “The Flower Dudes” to accommodate the last minute and forgetful shopper, and they would make “unique, eye-catching” arrangements.

Evelyn DeGuire, a 9-year-old fourth grader at DuVall Elementary in Dearborn, said their group chose to make decorative mouse pads with flowers and ladybugs on them for computers.

After the event DeGuire said she would rather work for a big company than for herself.

“It’s actually easier because sometimes you don’t have to do too much work, and there (aren’t) as (many) surprises that won’t get fixed,” DeGuire said.

She was also surprised by how many things there were to do at the event, and how the adult volunteers were able to keep the cost for the girls to attend down by doing things themselves.

Jillian Mojica, a home-schooled 9-year-old from Trenton, said she would like to have her own veterinary clinic someday, treating zoo and farm animals as well as pets.

She said the event taught her a lot about owning her own business.

“I didn’t realize how good and bad it could be to have your own business,” Mojica said. “I wasn’t really sure what I’d be doing here, but I’m really, really liking it.”

Kimora Worthy, a 9-year-old third grader from Detroit who attends St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic School in Grosse Pointe Park said that she previously considered being either a lawyer or a business owner with her own clothing line.

“I just found out today that there’s good stuff and bad stuff,” Worthy said. “So today I’m going to tell my mom that I guess I’m going to be a business owner.”

“I thought it was going to be like boring – blah, blah, blah – but it turned out that we’re doing a lot of fun projects,” Nicole Jolly, a 9-year-old fourth grader at Anderson Elementary School in Trenton, said.