Armed with nothing but their native wit, Class 10 students of RN Podar School set about to crack that great mystery: how does the teenage mind work? Their aim: to sell a school magazine that they had produced entirely on their own to fellow students.
“We sat and wondered — how did our friends’ minds really work?” said Tejasvin Samarth, 15, two months after their business successfully took off. “We had to figure out how to attract people’s attention to our product.” The bait they finally used to reel in their customers: students’ photos in the magazine. Two reprints and 75 sold copies later, Samarth and company were sitting pretty on a profit of Rs3,000.
RN Podar participates in the ‘company programme’ that the non-profit group Junior Achievement runs with schools. The programme aims to help students develop an entrepreneurial sense.
Earlier, students of the school successfully operated their own brownie and cookie enterprises, run by chief executive officers and owned by shareholders.
And Junior Achievement isn’t a standalone case. Non-profit group Tie Biz World launched its own programme with schools six months back. The IGCSE board has also just piloted its optional new course “Enterprise” for Class 9 and 10 students. “Based on feedback we received from students and teachers around the world, we thought it would be apt,” said Andrew Sortwell, the board’s regional manager for South Asia.
Tie Biz World helps mentor entrepreneurs and has begun helping school students conceptualise business plans. So far, it has worked with 130 city students.
“We thought it was important to influence the mindset of children and leverage their creativity at a younger age,” said Manak Singh, executive director of Tie Biz World, Mumbai.
At a presentation at the Tata Theatre in February, four such student groups presented their ideas before a packed audience.
These included business proposals for a mall for just teenagers, a homework outsourcing outfit, a club exclusively for teenagers and an exotic holidays programme, again just for teens. And parents are pleased. “It opened another field of thinking for my son,” said Soni Chhabria, whose son participated in the event. “The faster they learn such things, the better.”