Students use their profits to help the planet, and their community
In 2014, a group of Indian teenagers began an innovative project: setting up an eco-friendly business which they ran at their school. Their enterprise, "Good Earth", produces organic compost from dry leaves, plant saplings from flower cuttings, and handicrafts from recycled materials. This year they also launched their first collection of locally made t-shirts, working in partnership with a neighbourhood supplier.
Taking part in the School Enterprise Challenge has transformed education at Choithram School, giving young people the chance to develop transferable skills that will prepare them for school, work, and life. However, these young entrepreneurs don't only want to make a positive impact on the environment. They are also using their school business to transform the future of young people in their community, utilising over 50% of their profits to buy books and school uniforms to children from low income households.
Whilst the school's business ideas are simple, it's the execution that is impressive. School business activities have been integrated into classroom subjects such as Maths, ICT, and Economics, bringing the academic curriculum to life with practical examples. Students are also encouraged to regularly rotate around the areas of the business, gaining experience in production, marketing, sales, finances, and more.
"Changing roles enables us to identify opportunities and threats for the organisation from different perspectives offering a variety of opinions from all the team members. This helps the new team members broaden their mindset and learn from the mistakes that the team in the past had committed. Transferring roles has also been a great learning experience for the Managers as well as the team members as they become equipped with valuable skills of two different departments. They feel confident to seek out more opportunities that will help them learn about the different aspects of the business. A business only grows when every member shares responsibility and has equal chances of enhancing their skills"
What started as a small class project has since grown to a fully functional and profitable business. Their team comprises of 32 young people in Grade 11 and 12, all of whom were involved in running the school business across the different departments: Finance, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, Production and IT.
Chelsea Sawlani, the General Manager of "Good Earth", says that the entrepreneurial approach has transformed the way she approaches challenges:
"Entrepreneurship is definitely an important skill for everyone, even for those who do not perceive it as a career option. It gives us opportunities to create something new, to think ‘out of the box’. Being a part of the School Enterprise Challenge, I have realised that entrepreneurship teaches us that it is important to take risks and at the same time how to handle failure.'