Developing new products, managing operating costs and finding ways to increase shareholder value are activities usually overseen by the C-suite. But in late 2012, 87 students at four high schools in San Juan, Argentina, participated in a program that put them in charge. The schools were the first in San Juan to take part in the Junior Achievement Foundation’s entrepreneurship program, which develops critical business skills in students 14 to 18 years old. The program is sponsored by Barrick and Aramark, an international catering company, and managed by the non-profit Fundacion Internacional Junior Achievement.
The 15-week program was the result of a partnership between Aramark and Barrick to help expand the Junior Achievement Foundation to the communities of Jáchal and Iglesia in San Juan.
Students from each school created a company and oversaw every phase of their business, from product development to budgeting to selling shares in their respective companies.
Students engaged local suppliers to develop their products, which included an organic soap made from goat milk and olive oil, made-in-Jáchal cookies, a barbecue board, a beauty set for women and a multi-purpose basket. The products were sold at schools, fairs and in the local community.
In the final week of the program, students wrote a letter to shareholders summarizing their company’s activities, including financial statements. Calculations were made to see which groups registered profits and how much was paid out to shareholders. Students were paid base salaries and commissions on sales. They also paid taxes.
“During my university years I had the chance to work as a volunteer for the Junior Achievement Program in Lima, Peru,” says Denisse Silva-Santisteban, Regional Communications Supervisor for Barrick in South America. “This experience gave me the opportunity to teach students about the importance of creative business thinking.”