Young Entrepreneurs Sri Lanka (YESL) member Junior Achievement (JA) worldwide, being the local host for the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), celebrated its success by inspiring, promoting and conducting practical business, economics and entrepreneur education programs in schools.
Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators, who launch start-ups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.
During one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors – introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities.
YESL had undertaken several initiatives with its partners to promote Global Entrepreneurship Week throughout the year with 38 schools. The Ministry of Education, Provincial Councils and the Western Province Education Department have recognised the value of having entrepreneur education in schools, and supported the programs by issuing circulars and giving relevant permission for schools to participate in the YESL entrepreneur education programs.
The programs launched by YESL, based on JA programmes, were offered free to students with sponsorship from the business community, donor agencies and individuals. The YESL program is a critical bridge between education and entrepreneurship.
YESL is dedicated to inspiring and educating students to be workforce ready and entrepreneurial through programs aimed at students at the primary, middle school and high school levels. Specialised programs are available in different business areas which add value to students by assisting them identify their strengths and future careers.
YESL has initiated the high school company programs in most of the schools. It focuses on starting up a true to life company, where students gain insights into the complexities and rewards of the free enterprise system which add value to their lives, enabling them to develop self confidence and makes them become self dependant.
It encourages teamwork and teaches them financial literacy, preparing simple business plans and annual reports, communication skills, literacy in English, presentation skills, leadership, business and social ethics and social responsibility, workforce readiness, job shadowing, becoming job providers and being less dependent on Government jobs.
In the company program, students were able to study concepts on production process, stock control, product quality, packing and pricing, marketing and advertising, record keeping and maintaining accounts, recruitment policies and procedures, corporate social responsibility, preparing business plans, annual reports and individual departmental reports, how to conduct board meetings, financial literacy, how to operate a business in ethical ways etc.
Further, students were subjected to activities such as company presentations, product launches/stalls, personality development trainings, special guest lectures by well-known entrepreneurs and professionals, teacher training programs, and award ceremonies for the best achievements, strengthening their talents and commitment towards entrepreneurship.
YESL had partnered with Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation’s (HSBC) Global Trust and HSBC Sri Lanka to develop the entrepreneurship for 1,000 underprivileged students in 12 schools and centres in Colombo and its suburbs. HSBC has engaged 400 volunteers for YESL programs which made a significant impact on students.
Another partner was World Vision Lanka, a company that has enhanced entrepreneurial education for more than 300 students in rural schools based in Horowpothana and Negombo. Ceylon Biscuits Ltd (CBL) and their subsidiaries CBL foods International, Convenience Foods Lanka Ltd., and Plentyfoods (Pvt.) Ltd. partnered with YESL in to provide entrepreneurial education for 300 students in 10 schools in the high school company program recently.
Benefits to the country by such programs include better opportunities for children by making them employable and entrepreneurial, contribution to the socio-economic development of the country, poverty reduction through better income generation, job creation, improving the quality of life, helps them be productive citizens, adds value to human capital, creates a savings culture, avoids social unrest in the country, and promotes national reconciliation and global integration
For the sponsors/partners, it improves their social image, creates access to potential markets, attracts potential employees, improves the quality of life of youth, helps youth be workforce ready and entrepreneurial, gives them an opportunity to be a partner of a global program, assists in improving global integration, trade and tourism and national reconciliation, and brings about favourable media attention.
This year, students have initiated around 80 true to life companies under the high school company program. YESL has been able to bring about a considerable change in the minds of children towards entrepreneurship. The changes have taken place via idea generation, learning new subject areas, company formation etc.