He’s gone bananas for business

Ten-year-old selling stuffed bananas at farmers market

ELORA – You know you’re an entrepreneur when you see a product on Shark Tank, seek it out and use it to create your own successful business.

And so it was for Kai Jiwa, who saw the product Banana Loca on the popular TV show, bought it and immediately saw a way to make money with it.

It’s all the more impressive considering Jiwa is 10 years old. And his business, Go Stuff It, is not his first.

His first foray into the business world was last year, when he opened the Snack Shack at his school, Wellington Hall Academy, whose campus is at the St. Ignatius Centre just outside Guelph.

He sold snacks to students and raised $250 for the Canadian-Ukraine Foundation via Canadahelps.org.

“When I did snacks at school, I realized business is what I’m good at,” he said in an interview at his Guelph home. “And I really enjoyed it.”

Banana Loca is a gadget for making stuffed bananas. It will core a banana and has a mechanism that makes it easy to fill the core with a liquid – like Nutella, for example.

Jiwa tried it out a few times at home, decided the bananas were delicious and thought they would sell.

And indeed they have, as he now has a booth at the Elora Farmers Market.

“He’s a real go-getter,” said market manager Neil Louch.

The market started a young entrepreneur program a few years ago.

Youth under 19 years old can get a table at the market for one week for free. Tables and tents are provided, as well as wash sinks and hydro if necessary, making it as easy as possible for them to be successful.

Louch makes sure these entrepreneurs have all the necessary paperwork in order.

He has a couple of youth lined up and hopes to have 10 or 12 young entrepreneurs at the market this summer.

Because Jiwa is making a food product, he had to take public health’s food handlers’ course.

“He did everything by the book,” Louch said. “Getting the food handler certification at 10 years old is quite a feat.”

Jiwa said his experience at the market has been very positive. 

“They are a lot more supportive than I thought,” he said. “It’s a nice place at the market.”

And his stuffed bananas are selling like hotcakes.

“It’s gone over well,” he said. “I’m making some money.”

Jiwa’s also experimenting in his home kitchen with new flavours for the filling, like rhubarb and s’mores.

If they pass his own taste test and aren’t too expensive or difficult to prepare on site, there could be more choice on his menu.

The stuffed bananas are made to order.

“People think it’s cool to see it happening,” he said, adding because bananas are so perishable, he can’t make any ahead of time.

He also sells snow cones.

His mother Ashifa Jiwa said she doesn’t know where her son’s entrepreneurial spirit comes from, but it’s not from her.

“My brain doesn’t work that way, but he always had ideas, from the day he could talk,” she said with a laugh.

“And he’s really taken the initiative with this. He did the application; he took the public health course online. I’m really impressed.”

Her job, she said, is to buy green bananas on Wednesdays so they’ll be ripe by Saturdays. And to get him to the market in time to set up his booth.

Jiwa and family took a short vacation but Go Stuff It will be back at the Elora Farmers Market on July 6 and for the remainder of the summer.

July 6 is Kids’ Day at the market, where there will be face painting, food demos geared to kids, and other children’s activities.

Jiwa is hoping kids will go bananas.