Soviet Kids Will Learn Capitalism, Entrepreneur Says
MOSCOW — THE can-do attitude of kids could help the staggering Soviet centrally planned economy get on the road to capitalism, an enterprising American businessman believes. Nasir Ashemimry is president of Lemonade Kids Inc., a company that markets instructional kits designed to show teenagers how to start and run a business. The kits, sold under the trade name Busines$ Kids, have done well in the United States. Now Ashemimry is trying to export his capitalism-is-for-kids concept to the Soviet Union as it prepares to introduce a market economy. It's young people who hold the key to a successful move to the market, he adds.
``It will be hard to get the older generation to change, but it will be a cinch for people under 20,'' said Ashemimry, whose company is based in Coral Gables, Fla. Despite the numerous obstacles facing him, including the mountainous Soviet bureaucracy, Ashemimry remains undaunted. Eventually, he would like to market the business kits in what was once the communist heartland.
Busines$ Kids has already established a working relationship with Komsomol, the communist youth organization in the Soviet Union, and is pursuing several joint-venture agreements.
Last month, Busines$ Kids sponsored a week-long series of seminars during which a group of American entrepreneurs - aged 10 to 20 - visited Moscow to share their secrets of success with young Soviets. The Soviets' desire to learn is what impressed the young Americans the most at the seminars.
``The biggest thing is not to underestimate how much they already know and how much they want to learn,'' said 14-year-old Jaime Bloom of Boca Raton, Fla., who designs and sells T-shirts.
Topics at the seminars included marketing, keeping books, and motivation.
``I am now very optimistic in my outlook,'' said Yevgenii Nankin, a 20-year-old student. ``The seminar is a wonderful opportunity for us to get some experience in the world.''
While Soviet grown-ups struggle over the pace of change, the young see the coming of capitalism as only a matter of time, said Nankin. ``We're a great power. We have great resources, a great culture, and great potential.''
Yet it was a great struggle for the seminar to be held at a Komsomol complex, about 20 miles from Moscow.
Ashemimry said he had been trying to contact Soviet authorities for months but did not receive any feedback until the Voice of America broadcast a story about Busines$ Kids. ``The VOA interview made the difference,'' he said. ``The Komsomol has gone out of its way to help us since then.'' As the popularity of the Communist Party drops lower every day, the Komsomol is increasingly desperate to keep members, he said.
The Moscow Busines$ Kids seminars also allowed the young Americans to experience the rigors of business travel. ``I kinda can't wait to get back home to watch TV where they all speak English,'' said 10-year-old Brandon Bozek, the youngest member of the Busines$ Kids delegation. He runs a flower delivery service out of his home in Miami that earns him about $75 in profits a month.