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Sowing Future Business Leaders

PETALING JAYA: A “Young Enterprise” (YE) programme launched in 1989 has since trained some 25,000 students aged 16 and 17 on entrepreneurship to prepare them to become business leaders.

Under the auspices of the Junior Achievement Malaysia (JA Malaysia) programme, it is part of an expanding US-based NGO, Junior Achievement, which teaches students everything from registering a company to selling its products.

Some 550 students from 19 schools in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan and Malacca recently participated in the YE Annual Sales Fair 2022 held at a mall here. The event was sponsored by corporations such as AIG, DELL Technologies, General Electric, FedEx and Julie’s.

The two-day annual event showcases products the students came up with to sell to the public. Some of the products sold at the fair, such as tote bags, fertiliser, air freshener, handmade jewellery and clothing accessories were made from recyclable materials.

The fair is part of the YE programme, an extracurricular activity for secondary school students that aims to nurture and expose them to entrepreneurship and the business world.

JA Malaysia executive director Shanthi Kanthaswamy said the programme is approved by the Education Ministry. “The programme is like a business simulation for students to experience. We teach them to set up real-world businesses, not something theoretical. We even provide forms for them to fill out and register their company with JA Malaysia.

“Mentorship is also provided to guide them in producing merchandise, apart from organising workshops to train them in fundraising, operational and design thinking, as well as writing a report to close the company at the end of the programme.”

Shanthi said the programme allows students to think on their feet and exposes them to the business decision-making processes, which helps them prepare for the working world.

She added that the programme trains students on running a business and having an entrepreneurial skills mindset, and helps them gain confidence and build a larger network in the future.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, we could not meet in person, so we pivoted to e-commerce. We developed a platform called JA Malaysia Mall, where students could set up their shop and start selling on the platform.”

MACROKIOSK Berhad co-founder and CEO Datuk Kenny Goh, who joined YE 28 years ago, said the experience he gained shaped him to be the entrepreneur he is today. He is now a member of JA Malaysia’s board of trustees.

He said he treasures the experience so much that he also recommended it to his two brothers. Years later, after finishing their university degrees, Kenny and his brothers set up their businesses with the entrepreneurship skills they picked up from the programme.

MACROKIOSK is an enterprise solutions platform with a presence in 12 Asian countries. It also has companies in 34 countries worldwide offering communications, marketing, payment and customer relationship services.

“I am honoured to be part of the wonderful initiative to educate and prepare young Malaysians for the working world by exposing them to the experience of being in the entrepreneurial world.

“Our society needs to go beyond textbook learning, we need entrepreneurial insights to polish critical thinking and resilience among young generations. I have experienced the programme first hand, seen the value of it, and would like to contribute back to society by becoming one of the board members.”


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