Self-confidence, risk taking, curious, courageous, team player, organized, focused … these were the qualities discussed during our conversations in Entrepreneurship class this week.
On Wednesday, May 18, VRG Economy students welcomed four students and three teachers from Kenya to visit our school. These four students had won a national competition for “Best Young Entrepreneur” in Kenya via an afterschool program sponsored by Hand in Hand. Their prize was to come to Sweden to attend the Swedish national competition in Entrepreneurship (SM in UF).
As our school is very involved in the UF process here in Sweden and our school is focused on building future entrepreneurs, we were a natural stop for a school visit for this team. Even better was that the Kenyans hosts were two former VRG students, Susanna Johansen (VRGD Class of 2001) and Nina Sidenö (VRGD Class of 2008). They helped us to make the necessary connections to make this visit possible.
During their visit, the students from Kenya shared their Hand in Hand projects:
Solo 15yrs old – Solo intends to establish a search system indicating the availability of pharmaceutical drugs. Frank has identified the needof a system that can tell which pharmacy stocks certain drugs. Today, customers usually need to visit many pharmacies before finding their prescribed medicine. This is something he wants to change.
Francis 17yrs old – Francis has found a lucrative business in selling eggs. He buys eggs from a local farm and sells them with a small margin. He has realized the positive effects of online marketing and exposes his business via Facebook. He now offers home delivery as a way to wipe out any competition.
Evelyn 19yrs old – Evelyn ́s enterprise is focusing on breeding and keeping doves. Once fully grown, the doves are sold locally. As doves are a popular pet in Kenya she experiences a huge increase of demand prior to school holidays.
Nelson 17yrs old – Nelson is contributing to sustainable tree farming and his enterprise is focusing on growing seedlings of three eco resilient types of trees. Among his customers are many big farms and the three varieties that Nelson grows are Eucalyptus, Macadamia and Khat.
And, then the VRG students shared their projects. Their projects included: Apps for preparation for the college entrance exam in Sweden and course evaluation, a service that sells wild game, a service that raises money for charity and more.
What we found is although we have different school systems and different implementation approaches, we share many of the same key ideas. Core content areas of marketing, risk analysis, organizational theory, best practices, business plans, sustainability, etc were obviously of central focus in both programs. But even more interesting were the “soft skills” – self-confidence, curiosity, team spirit, grit – that were also very similar. We realized that although many “worlds apart”, we shared the same values.
According to our national curriculum, the Economy students should …
“… gain knowledge about the role of business in the development of the society – local, regional, national and global. … Content and working methods should encourage the student’s creativity and ability to cooperate, take responsibility and convert ideas into action…”
This engaging visit did just that. We were all very inspired by our time together and hope to make these discussions an annual event each year when the Kenyan national winners visit Sweden.