ECONOMYNEXT- The Junior Achievement (JA) program which was active in Sri Lanka till 2012, will be relaunched in September 2019 to unlock the entrepreneurship spirit within local students, an official said.
"The program provides hands on experience, so that students learn not only from textbooks, but actions," JA Asia Pacific Project Consultant Bonnie Tam said in Colombo.
"Students will be given training on entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy," she said.
"It is a lifechanging experience for students."
The after-school program will take 720 students from 8 schools in the Western Province on a 7-month entrepreneurial journey, she said.
Business leaders in Sri Lanka will volunteer as mentors for the program, helping students build up businesses with a starting budget of 10,000 rupees each per firm, and providing advice on how companies navigate problems.
Students will take up roles in a company mirroring real life, from directors, to top executives and managers.
They will learn about developing a product, market pricing, marketing and sales and even liquidation of a company.
Capitalizing a business and holding an Annual General Meeting to communicate with shareholders are other experiences.
JA was active in Sri Lanka from 1998 to 2012 as the Young Entrepreneur Sri Lanka program, which at its peak included 35,000 students across 400 schools.
Arshad Akbar, founder of Winner, a popular English language training school, was a participant in 2004 and 2005, when he was a student at D. S. Senanayake College.
"JA made us think that doing business was cool, and that thought triggered something. It really helped," he says.
Sri Lanka currently has low entrepreneurship. Just 3 percent of the country’s population are entrepreneurs, compared to around 20 percent in Vietnam and Thailand.
If the pilot project is successful, the JA program will be launched islandwide, Tam said.
JA Asia Pacific is currently active in 17 locations, and has reached out to 825,386 students, and its partners include USAID, Microsoft, Bloomberg and Citibank.
It is a part of JA Worldwide founded in 1919 by Horace A. Moses, Theodore Vail, and Winthrop M. Crane.
Some of the program’s past winners have innovated new products.
A winner from Israel had produced a picnic cloth which can be converted into a garbage bag.
In Thailand, a JA winner had produced desktop organizers using compressed rice husks.
European winners had invented 3D printed USB LED lights and motion sensors for bicycles powered through a rechargable battery.(Colombo/Aug07/2019)