Youth learns business values

Recycling venture adds to positive community

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Responsibility, community service and a little extra cash are all good reasons to start a new enterprise. 

Eleven-year-old Jason Mikanikian has been working with local businesses to earn a few bucks and learn a thing or two about running a business. He collects bottles from local cafes and restaurants twice per week, bringing them in to the recycling depot and saving the money. His enterprise has gotten him financial freedom and a learned sense of responsibility and stewardship that isn’t common with people his age. 

So far, Mikanikian has saved enough since he started collecting bottles in September 2019 to buy himself a second-hand laptop, and is saving up for a second electronic purchase, this time a Nintendo Switch. 

“There’s a lot of stuff that I wanted to get, but I never had enough money to do it. My mom told me about collecting cans and bottles,” he said. “We went to places around Ganges Alley to ask about cans and bottles. They let me and I started returning them.”

While being able to afford new gadgets is exciting, Mikanikian’s mom Susan Mikanikian said that the enterprise has also been teaching her son how to be more responsible with his money, and has brought him closer to the people in the community.   

“I love that he’s financially independent, as opposed to asking me for everything all the time. He’s making his own choices and he understands the challenges and the work that we have to put in to earn money,” she said. “He’s improving his customer service skills, his financial skills and he actually shops less. He’s more careful with what he spends because now he has to earn it.”

Jason makes around $35 per week for his efforts, which include two pick-up days per week. He takes his collection to the Return-It centre on Tuesdays where the staff helps out.

When asked about how it feels to support himself financially, Jason replied “really good.”

“I really like this job because I’m making money and friends at the same time,” he added. 

He hopes to expand his enterprise to more businesses on the island, and is offering pick-up service to private homes as well. Those interested in arranging a pick-up can contact Susan at susan@hajangus.com.

For more on this story, see the Feb. 5, 2020 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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