AZ Children's Business Fair

Young entrepreneurs participate in a “business meeting” prior to the main event.

The Arizona Children’s Business Fair was established by a group of Phoenix entrepreneurs looking to mentor the younger generation. The event provides kids with hands-on entrepreneurial involvement and experience, including serving as boss for a day.

While the fair is loosely affiliated with Acton Academy Phoenix, it is officially organized under New Learning Ventures (NLV), an educational nonprofit in the Valley.

Acton Academy’s Austin, Texas campus was the birthplace of this fair. As Acton campuses spread around the world, so, too, did its events. The Phoenix founding entrepreneurs were familiar with Acton’s fairs and decided to bring one to the neighborhood. 

“Around the same time the first business fair was held in Phoenix, we launched Acton Academy Phoenix,” said president and CEO of NLV, Andrew Collins. 

After their first successful fair in downtown Phoenix, NLV hosted one at Arcadia Park, on 56th St. and Indian School, for Acton students. The fair grew so much that the downtown event ceased, and now the Arizona Children’s Business Fair is held every autumn at Arcadia Park. Because of its popularity, the fair is now open for kids from all over the Valley, not just Acton students. Kids between the ages of six and 13 are able to participate.

Two to three weeks before the fair, young entrepreneurs are invited to attend a pitch night. After receiving a 20-minute brief on economics, profit and the art of the pitch, kids have the opportunity to rehearse their business ideas for volunteers and coaches and receive invaluable feedback. 

“NLV supports all Arizona students to make sure we’re creating powerful learning experiences like this fair,” Collins said. “The fair is learning by doing, and it’s really fun. In addition to understanding how to create value and exchange in a market economy, kids are also taught communication, planning, design, productivity and collaboration skills, which are essential in any career.” 

Collins is not the only person who thinks the fair is exciting. The kids love it too.

“It was a good experience. I think anybody can do a business if they want to. A few people were there with their dogs, and they were really nice. One person bought my dog treat and gave it right to their dog. The dog munched it up! I felt happy,” said Vera Treadwell, age 8. 

“You can make money and get to actually practice selling things outside. One lady who stopped by my booth is a floral designer on Camelback, and when she saw my booth, she told me that she has competition,” said Lucy Chaney, age 9. 

“I learned that business costs affect how much money you actually earn. Next year, I plan to have less costs,” said Ty Flake, age 8. 

The 2019 fair showcased about 130 kid-run enterprises. Children create their own products or services and rent a booth where they officially unveil their businesses. The public is invited to shop, and real money is exchanged for goods and services. 

Custom poetry, handmade bookmarks, dog treats, purses, food, painted tiles and games are some of the many unique businesses that have been featured at the fair. 

At the end of the business day, committee members bestow awards for the most creative idea, best business potential and best pitch/presentation in three different age categories. 

“My passion is to support a broader, holistic approach to learning,” Collins said. “Instead of measuring student success on how they perform on a standardized test, the real test is what they’re capable of going out and achieving.”