IN A corner of the reception area of Dwi Emas International School, students can set up a drinks station to sell beverages after classes. It’s part of the school’s efforts to inculcate and encourage entrepreneurship among its students.
Anne Lim, founder and group chief executive officer of Sirius International (M) Sdn Bhd, which owns and manages the Dwi Emas and Sri Emas international schools, drops by the corner regularly to support them.
More and more people are exploring entrepreneurship today. And most of them are getting younger.
It is not surprising to see those in their early 20s, or even teens, starting and commanding successful ventures.
Lim believes that with the right guidance, young ones can learn the fundamentals of running an ethical and sustainable business.
Within Dwi Emas itself, there are some 60 ongoing businesses that are run by the students. Among them is Bloom, a tea supply venture started by a seven-year-old.
Lim realised early on that young students can and should be equipped with financial education as this can help them be better entrepreneurs.
She recalls a class when a student of hers discovered that he, too, could start his own business.
“His mum makes lovely brownies and he wanted to market them. He asked, ‘Teacher Anne, can I market my mum’s brownies?’
“I said, go ahead,” she says.
Financial education need not be all about boring numbers and statistics, she adds. It is possible to make it practical for younger students to understand.
“We had an instance, where a student had started a business to sell squishies. His friend also started a business and sold it cheaper. The first one got angry.
“The teachers told me about it but I told them to just let it happen. We told the parents to let us handle it.
“When the conflict got to a peak, and students from the other classes also got involved. Then, we brought them all down to our wall – where we have put up all the values of entrepreneurship. And we asked them, where is the value in the product? Where is the win-win-win? Where is the teamwork? Where is the empowerment?”
“And they went, ‘Oh’. They started to see the values they needed in entrepreneurship. Then the whole conflict died down.
“So it can be practical,” she says.
Lim notes that learning to be an entrepreneur is about learning to collaborate. If the items you’re selling has no added value, the only way to win is a price war, she explains, which does no one any good.
“You have to figure out a way to give value. You must collaborate. So we also have trade fairs in school so that our students can learn to collaborate with each other.
“For example, someone is doing a gifts business and someone else could be doing packaging. And you can see them working together.
“It’s very cute,” she says, noting also that it is a valuable lesson for them.