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Getting down to business…in school holidays

08:00am August 09 2018

Watch children in action at Fiftysix Creation’s recent business camp held in Sydney.

Most parents’ minds don’t necessarily leap to “business camp” when mulling over the school holiday activity list for their children.

Yet that’s how a growing number of students aged 5 to 15 are spending their holidays – experiencing a taste of the mindset, skills and resources needed to build a business during multi-day business camps.

“We wanted to create a new way for young people and disadvantaged kids to have access to a world class education, and we've now worked with 45,000 students,” says Taj Pabari, the founder of one operator, Fiftysix Creations.

“We now have set a goal of educating 100,000 students by 2020.”  

Children at one of Fiftysix Creations’ recent programs in Sydney. (Josh Wall)

Fiftysix Creations, a social enterprise founded by Pabari four years ago when he was 14 and one of last year’s top 20 Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow, aims to expose children to the “highs, lows, love, and pressure” of the ever changing world of business. It matches every ticket purchased for its interactive workshop programs with a complimentary ticket for a child who cannot afford one, achieved through scholarships and connecting with like-minded organisations.

Fiftysix Creations are in talks with GO Foundation, an organisation founded by former AFL superstars Adam Goodes and Micheal O’Loughlin, with a focus on empowering Indigenous Australian youths through education. The partnership would allow Indigenous students from the GO Foundation to attend the business camps free of charge.

“Collaborations like this are key to supporting our students and providing access and opportunities,” the foundation’s CEO, Shirley Chowdary, says.

Core to camps like those operated by Fiftysix Creations is also addressing the ongoing gap in financial literacy, says Lali Wiratunga, national manager of Davidson Institute, Westpac’s “school of money” that has worked with Pabari to deliver workshop programs to regional and remote areas around Australia.

The contribution included a “starting a business” financial education module, which is helping students understand how to turn their vision into a financial plan. Westpac has also sponsored a separate holiday offering by Code Camp.

“The sooner we understand and embed in our children the idea that financial education is as important as any of the other … literacies … (the sooner) it will become a natural skill,” Wiratunga says.

Josh Wall is the Head of Video at Westpac Wire. Prior to joining the team, he spent 10 years as a video journalist and documentary filmmaker, most recently as Head of Video for the Guardian Australia. He also worked across numerous News Corp mastheads in Sydney as a presenter, producer, writer and video journalist. Josh is originally from Perth, Western Australia where he began his career by co-creating a video magazine that focused on music and the arts.

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