Every year, the School Enterprise Challenge team is impressed with the great school businesses we see come to life thanks to the dedication of enterprising students. We also love hearing about what young people do after participating in our programme – our graduates are truly inspiring, as they take the lessons learned in the school business to shape their lives and seek out the opportunities available to them. We want to dedicate this post to some of the most amazing graduates we have seen this year – they are shining examples of the long-lasting benefits young people can obtain through our programme, combining dedication, resilience and creativity to start and run wonderful enterprises!
Valens from Kigali, Rwanda, participated in his school’s business from 2016 until 2018, the year of his graduation. Since then, he has taken the skills acquired while participating in the School Enterprise Challenge to start a poultry farming business. This initiative has allowed him to help reduce malnutrition in his community! Between the profits he makes from selling eggs and his part-time job in electrical installation, Valens has been able to start saving money with his friends and business partners, with the goal of eventually starting and running a bigger business in the future. He explains that participating in the school business has been very beneficial for him: “with participating in the school business, I now feel more confident; I know how to deal with people, and how to present my ideas”. It also taught him financial literacy and changed his relationship to budgeting, making him more responsible: before participating in the school business, he was not mindful about money and would often spend as soon as he earned instead of saving. Now, he understands the value of money and of planning ahead, which will be an advantage for the rest of his life!
Another brilliant example of a graduate using the skills he acquired during his time taking part in the School Enterprise Challenge is Nicholas. Nicholas participated in his school’s business in 2016, and he feels that he was better prepared than some of his peers for life after school, as he was able to use the skills he learnt to start his own enterprise. He explained: “The school business exposes you to business challenges and solutions. In the long run it equips you with the necessary experience for running your business.” He is proud to be self-employed and to provide services that benefit his community. Indeed, he started a community-based organisation called “Skilled Hands Uganda”, which is teaching a wide array of skills to young people, especially girls. Since he launched his organisation in 2017, he has trained over 100 girls in the production of bar and liquid soaps, jellies and books. His goal is to empower the youth by developing their soft skills and practical skills. In the future, he hopes to be able to support more girls in acquiring competencies that will empower them, but also specifically to help young mothers in starting a business with little resources so that they can sustain themselves. A truly inspirational initiative that improves the lives of people around him.
It was a tough call choosing only two young people to give our 2019 “Highest Achieving Graduates of the Year” prize to. However, Nahomi from Nicaragua and Imitha from South Africa really showed the resilience and grit we aim to develop in young people through our programme.
Nahomi is thirteen years old and currently attending middle school. She participated in the School Enterprise Challenge in 2017, while she was still attending primary school, where she acquired business and life skills. That same year, Nahomi lost her dad, and her family not only only lost a loved one, but also the sole provider of the household. Seeing her mother in a situation of unemployment, and the needs of their family, Nahomi decided that the two of them could start a business that would allow them to provide for their family. With the help of her teacher, Ana Bielka, and the educational guides provided by the School Enterprise Challenge, she was able to start and run “Fritanga Nahomi”, a type of restaurant that sells home-style Nicaraguan food. Their specialty is tajadas, slices of fried plantains. It has become such a success that on top of working with her mum, she has also been able to provide employment to her sister-in-law. Nahomi explains that starting her own business has allowed her to be closer to her mum, and to spend more time with her, since she was not forced to leave their home to find a job. In the future, Nahomi hopes to be a businesswoman so she can help more people in situations of unemployment. She told us: “I feel really proud. The School Enterprise Challenge changed my life.” What a resilient and kind-hearted entrepreneur!
Imitha is 19 years old, and comes from a rural town in Eastern Cape, South Africa, with few employment opportunities and where many people engage in subsistence agriculture. Imitha was the finance manager in her school tuckshop (a food selling retailer), where she developed her customer service and leadership skills, learnt to overcome challenges and honed her financial skills. Imitha proved herself to be an inspirational leader. During her time in the school business, when teachers left and the principal wanted to drop out of the School Enterprise Challenge, she decided to step up and led the rest of the business team in writing their business plan and in thinking of ways to grow their enterprise. Her dedication allowed many others to acquire skills they would have missed out on had she not insisted on carrying on with the programme. Furthermore, participating in the school business gave her the skills she needed to start and run her own profitable tuckshop. She is saving the profits to apply to the University of Cape Town, where she plans on obtaining a degree in supply chain management. On top of running her tuckshop, Imitha provides mentorship to people in her community who want to become entrepreneurs! She believes that entrepreneurship is the best way to empower people and to bring out their true potential: “My experience in the school business helped me realise that as a person you can’t always depend on others and you need to find a way to stand on your own. I also learnt that the business world is the best way that you can improve others’ lives and bring out the best in everyone.”