Nine-year old Zlatko has already seen the baroque palace, home to the University of Mannheim, many times from the outside. Sitting inside in one of the lecture halls however is a completely new experience for him. The room somewhat reminds him of his classroom at the Mozart elementary school – just a lot bigger. That makes sense, since university is a place where the “big ones” study. His mentor Mats is one of these “big ones”. He has invited Zlatko to give him an insight into university life. The lecture for children of the University of Mannheim Business School provides an opportunity to do so.
Both Mats and Zlatko participate in the mentoring program “Uni-Cleverlinge²”. The project was initiated by the charitable organization KinderHelden and later developed in cooperation with the Dean’s Office of the Business School of the University of Mannheim and the Mozart elementary school in Mannheim. In the course of the project, active students of all disciplines regularly meet with their protégés. The students assist their mentees mostly with their homework, but also undertake other activities with them such as going swimming or having ice-cream together. The idea behind the program: The mentors are supposed to be a role model for the children and show them that it’s worth visiting a secondary school, since educational opportunities still highly depend on the educational biography of the family. The project is supposed to counteract this inequality.
Zlatko and his mentor Mats undertake most activities together as a group of two, but sometimes the program also includes joint activities such as the child lecture. Today, the lecture revolves around the question what exactly a company is. Dr. Alexander Pinz of the Chair of Public & Nonprofit Management, tries to give the children an understanding of the topic with a vivid example: It is about two young people, Max and Paula, who live in a world without cars. In such a world, it can be difficult to get from A to B. Therefore, Max and Paula invent the automobile. Because their invention also helps many other people, they start producing cars. Thereby their company creates a value for its customers and receives a payment in exchange. Conclusion of the lecture: Companies need good ideas to develop products which benefit many people.
Following the conclusion, the kids were encouraged to act as entrepreneurs themselves: They were asked to come up with an idea to make the world a better place. Zlatko has a good idea: “I want to sell houses to poor people that only cost 600 Euros – so nobody has to sleep on the streets anymore.” He also has a clear picture of the distribution of roles within his company already: „I will be the boss and Mats my construction worker.”
Dr. Ingo Bayer, Managing Director of the Business School, and Linn Schöllhorn, co-founder of KinderHelden, are excited about the kids’ creative ideas. “It is great to see how the University of Mannheim arouses the interest and inspires the entrepreneurial spirit of the children.”
Text: Kathrin Holstein / May 2018