In a class of their own

In a class of their own

A team of young entrepreneurs learned some of the secrets of commerce and won first place in a junior business programme

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Sacred Heart Canossian College students (front row from left) Molly Yuen, Agnes Ho, Jennifer Kwong, (back row from left) Lilia Tang, Bernice Chan, Yuki Chan and Jamie Chan show off their award-winning eco-friendly binders.
Sacred Heart Canossian College students (front row from left) Molly Yuen, Agnes Ho, Jennifer Kwong, (back row from left) Lilia Tang, Bernice Chan, Yuki Chan and Jamie Chan show off their award-winning eco-friendly binders.
Photo: Nora Tam
A group of senior students from Sacred Heart Canossian College took their skills from the classroom to the boardroom. They proved they have what it takes in the small business world.

The students joined the Junior Achievement (JA) Company Programme in September last year and won first place in the Best Product category in the programme's trade fair.

Along the way they learned many practical and corporate skills.

The project's goal was for each group to build a business from the ground up. To do this they had to raise HK$5,000 as capital, write a business plan, develop a product from scratch and market it to the public to make a profit.

The Sacred Heart students decided on a notebook product called "Switch On" to promote green living. They designed three notebooks with LED lights on the covers and containing short "green" messages throughout.

"We want people to 'switch on' their green ideas when they use our notebooks," said Form Six student Agnes Ho Hiu-yan, chief executive of the 25-member company.

Agnes said the team chose LED lights because they were more energy-saving and sustainable than traditional light bulbs.

Apart from giving an eco-savvy look to the product, the lights also reminded people of the green options in life.

The team comprised a mix of Form Four and Six students. They were each given a specific role, just like in a real company.

Sales and marketing director Bernice Chan Pui-yin, a sixth former, thought the experience had taken her to a new level.

"I needed to represent our company and talk to other schools to find ways of collaboration and how to maximise our business revenues," she said.

"Not only did I learn to communicate my views to others, but I also learned about the practices in other schools."

Lilia Tang Tsz-wing, who was in charge of production, went to Sham Shui Po looking for the parts for the LED lights.

"I had to talk to [shopkeepers] and negotiate with the factory that made the product," she said. "It's something I'd have never learned in the classroom."

Giving students hands-on experience is precisely the aim of the programme, which was set up in 2003 by Junior Achievement Hong Kong and supported by the Education Bureau and Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp.

"Through the experience of running a business venture, under the guidance of a volunteer, students can develop their entrepreneurial, teamwork and leadership [skills], and, most importantly, their confidence," JA Hong Kong's chief executive Vivian Lau Sio-kuan said. "More than 1,800 senior students from 76 schools in Hong Kong are taking part this year." The team was not only thrilled with its success in winning the competition, but also about being able to break even in business terms.

Of the 900 notebooks they produced, 500 have already been sold at various school events and on the internet. And the company is confident when it closes its account in March, it will be able to report positive results to its shareholders at the annual general meeting.

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