A group of Surrey students has achieved business success—and donated their profits to help underprivileged students attend post-secondary education.
The students were participants of the Junior Achievement (JA) company program, which gives high school students the opportunity to learn and apply business skills by having them create and operate an actual business enterprise.
The program runs the full gamut of creating a business. The students elect presidents and vice-presidents, conduct market research, raise capital by selling shares of their company to investors and sell their product.
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“It’s different from a school experience,” said 15-year-old Arman Turna. “We learn things about business at school, but we don’t learn to apply them in a real world situation. The Junior Achievement program gives us the opportunity to put those business skills to use.”
At the end of the program, the profits made are divided between shareholders and a charity of the students’ choosing.
“In this particular case, 70 per cent of the profits went to the [scholarship] society and 30 per cent went to the shareholders as dividends,” said JA mentor Tom Taylor.
After evaluating their market, the students decided upon a product: smartwatches. They sold 100 units in three weeks. You may have seen the JA students at the Cloverdale Flea Market or another local community event, selling their wares.
The one issue that the JA students ran into? They sold too many shares.
“They were overfunded,” said Taylor. “That never happens. They got a little too carried away, it’s a good thing.”
“It diluted the return to the shareholders,” mentor John Wallace explained. “So instead of making a 28 per cent return instead of 20. Now, if I promised you a 20 per cent return in six weeks, I think you’d be sitting here talking to me. It’s still great. It’s fabulous.”
After paying dividends to shareholders, the group decided to support the Canadian Scholarship Society with their remaining profits.
They made the decision “because Junior Achievement gave us the opportunity to learn something new and the Canadian Scholarship Society does something similar,” according to Turna.
“They give the opportunity for underprivileged students to attend post-secondary, who should get the opportunity that we’re getting,” he said.
“One hundred per cent of donations go directly to the students,” said CSS secretary Susan Marles.
“We’ve spent it already,” said CSS president Roman Terlecki. “We have a student who wants to become an engineer. He comes from a home that is struggling and he may not have been able to afford to go to university without this support.”
The JA program will return to Surrey next year. Taylor said that they were looking at running it at Semiahmoo Secondary and Southridge School in South Surrey, and again at Surrey Little Theatre, inviting students from both the Surrey and Langley school districts for a free enterprise program.
To learn more about attending the JA program, or about becoming a mentor, visit jabc.ca.