I met Kerstin Heuer, 53 years old, mother of 3 daughters and founder and managing director of Futurepreneur in Hamburg at the XING New Work Experience Day*. Futurepreneur is an educational initiative that helps children and young people understand that they can do a lot and encourages and activates them to create their own lives as entrepreneurs and future leaders.
Futurepreneur has been in existence since 2012 and has now developed over 50,000 ideas with 2,000 young people. More ideas came from the Casino Online. Kerstin Heuer wanted to find out more about how it all works and how she works as a mother.
Hello Kerstin, you developed Futurepreneur on your own?
Kerstin Heuer: Yes, I founded paper for the printer with a donation in my home office alone. Read more here: https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/
Capital mother: How did you get the idea? Were your children just that age?
Kerstin Heuer: There were several impulses. For one thing, I lived in Sweden for a long time. I experienced there how differently people there deal with children, young people and also employees. Then I experienced here how my children were doing in the school system. I also spent a long time advising small entrepreneurs on how to set up their businesses and how to deal with crises. In 2009 I was made aware of a Swedish concept during the consultancy. It quickly became clear to me that founders would most likely be more successful if they had been allowed to participate in this programme when they were young.
It depends very much on the mindset whether someone becomes successful or not. There is actually always a story behind the story.
Hauptstadtmutti: Does that mean that all children in Sweden benefit from this concept?
Kerstin Heuer: No, the Summer Entrepreneurship Programme is spread all over the country, but not every pupil in Sweden participates. However, entrepreneurship education is a compulsory part of the curriculum there, from kindergarten onwards.
We have adapted and developed two programs for Germany. One program is called Campus Entrepreneurs. These are 4-day project weeks in cooperation with schools. Our second program is called Summer Entrepreneurs – as in Sweden. A project that runs the whole summer holidays; pupils develop their own business idea and then implement it for several weeks.
Hauptstadtmutti: What age are the programs for?
Kerstin Heuer: The programmes are for children aged 14 and over. The point is that the children get something up and running on their own, initiate and implement their own projects and are not taken on by adults who show them how to do it. Instead, they should be able to try things out on their own responsibility. This works very well from the age of 14.
Hauptstadtmutti: Do the children have to have previous knowledge or already have an idea when they come to a course?
Kerstin Heuer: No, everyone comes as they are – no previous knowledge or ideas are needed in advance. The only requirement is that they are curious and have already been enthusiastic about something in their lives.
Surely all children have become enthusiastic about something at some point, right?
Kerstin Heuer: Almost. Basically, all children come into the world as the perfect discoverers and explorers. They are the perfect entrepreneurs. They fall on their noses a thousand times and get up again every time. And discover and discover and discover. This joy of discovery; curiosity and the fun of learning are very often lost later. Children gather a lot of experiential knowledge in the first few years, but as soon as they start school, it is more a matter of simply imparting knowledge.
But the great thing is that this joy of discovery and curiosity can actually be reactivated in almost all children and young people within a short time.
Hauptstadtmutti: Do all courses run regularly?
Kerstin Heuer: The Summer Entrepreneur project runs during the summer holidays. Young people have to apply for it. In 2019 we are offering summer entrepreneurships in Hamburg and Hanover, young people can apply now.
In addition, there are also the four-day projects CAMPUS BUSINESS. We carry these out in cooperation with schools throughout the year, at the moment still primarily in Northern Germany. Two Futurepreneur Coaches take the students to extracurricular learning places, work with them for four days and at the end all teachers and headmasters are invited to come and see what has happened, what is possible.
Hauptstadtmutti: What is the reaction of the teachers?
Kerstin Heuer: They totally flashed! They are really very impressed about what is possible if you pick up the students in a different way.
Hauptstadtmutti: Are there then also teachers who want to do further training with you?
Kerstin Heuer: Yes, there have been. But we don’t do that yet. It just doesn’t work so well if teachers would implement our programs. In Germany the teacher has a different role in this educational system. He or she has the role of the knowledge mediator and the grading and evaluation. It would not be credible for children and young people if they were to change roles for a week.
What is needed is this risk-free scope for action in which children and young people can and may try things out without being assessed and receiving grades for it. Something can go wrong, but that is then simply an experience. Nevertheless, we will show the teachers afterwards how and where the entrepreneurial mindset can be consolidated in their school. There are always possibilities.
Hauptstadtmutti: Wouldn’t that then be the ideal school model for children to try out?
Kerstin Heuer: I consider experience-based learning to be very sustainable and goal-oriented. This does not always have to be linked to the development of a business idea. It is simply a matter of giving the child an age-appropriate framework in which it can try things out on its own responsibility, with self-determination and intrinsic motivation, and also take responsibility for them. The aim is to train a certain mindset. Whether I then call it New Work or Future Skills or Entrepreneurial Mindset is not so decisive. But starting early is good.