Cedar Rapids entrepreneur Maurice Davis was looking to get a book for his little sisters about entrepreneurship. He wanted to work with them on problem-solving and introduce them to entrepreneurial thinking.
While he found a handful of children’s books that touched on the subject, the characters in those books didn’t look like his sisters.
“Education studies tell us that representation is huge when we start talking about the growth of a child, so I was a little annoyed and frustrated,” Davis told Little Village. “I kept looking, and I couldn’t find anything. Then, finally, I said if I’m having this hard of a time finding something, why not just make something.”
Davis spent the next seven months drafting, writing and putting together Jayden’s Big Day, which he self-published earlier this month. It is available through Amazon for $9.99.
The book follows Jayden as he tries to save up enough money for a new toy after his parents tell him that they can’t buy it for him right now. Jayden ends up learning how he can trade watermelon slices (which is something he has) for money, which is what he wants.
Davis knew he wanted Jayden to earn money and “stumble into starting his own business or an entrepreneurial transaction” but the hardest part was writing it in a way where the character discovered it on his own without the parents telling him what to do.
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While the book focuses on entrepreneurship, there are also larger themes at play, Davis said.
“I sat down and just thought about what things do I want [children] to see when they’re reading this book,” Davis said. “It was the family unit and making sure that that was represented in the book. … [Jayden] has a group of friends that are also thought-provoking. So these are all things that I wanted to be represented in the book, also trying to include some key, cultural things that may resonate with young children of color.”
Davis said he was introduced to entrepreneurship at a young age by his mother, who was an entrepreneur and had a business consulting company.
Davis now has his own consulting firm through which he helps nonprofits and small businesses, and is also the executive director and founder of the nonprofit Financial Education and Interpersonal Development (FEID). Earlier this year, he published a networking guidebook titled, “The Introvert’s Survival Guide to Networking.” The guidebook is also available for purchase through Amazon.
“Entrepreneurship kind of runs through me, and my favorite part of it is being able to help others through my passion,” Davis said.
One of the programs within FEID is an entrepreneurship scholarship for kids trying to start their own business. Right now, Davis said he’s working with a child hoping to get into fashion.
“The young man I’m working with now has a fashion line, and we’ll use some of that money to get his website going, to buy some materials,” Davis said. “The goal here is that we give them enough money to get started and make it back. Ideally, we would like for them to make it back and then put it back into the scholarship fund, that idea of community reinvestment. But at the end of the day, if the business is not successful, we don’t want that to be a hardship on the family that helped kickstart that thing.”
Davis said the profits from Jayden’s Big Day will go toward the program to help other kids start their businesses.
“Any money that we make off this book, at any point in time, goes back to kids,” Davis said. “That’s the primary goal of this book.”
The process of putting the book together was really interactive, Davis said. He sent around the first draft to parents with younger children and asked for feedback. He did the same with the illustrations for the book. It ended up that the parents liked one set of illustrations and the children another, so Davis ended up going with the set that the children liked more.
“I have the benefit of being an entrepreneur, and so the idea of testing and validating products … is something that I preach in the program that I run,” Davis said. “Having that experience was really valuable during this process.”
Davis hopes that this first book can become the first in a series, and already has ideas for future books. He’d also like to see the book evolve into a YouTube channel where kids can watch Jayden and become immersed in the story.
“I really hope that kids see themselves and see the possibility that entrepreneurship has,” Davis said. “In a broader sense, I believe that entrepreneurial thinking is paramount to the success of everyone, and having that mindset of looking to solve problems, being creative and innovative, and providing more value than you take from the world, is essentially the core functions of an entrepreneur.”