FOR a group of 26 students from SMK USJ 13, getting ready for school on Tuesday morning last week was certainly fun as the day was not to be about sitting down to routine lessons; instead, it was going to be about getting their hands dirty – with chocolate.
Having fun with chocolate was on the agenda for the students as they had signed up to participate in Citi and Beryl's Chocolate & Confectionery Sdn Bhd's chocolate factory tour.
The programme was put together to help the Form Four students gain a better understanding of the basics of setting up and running a successful enterprise.
The initiative was part of the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Young Enterprise (YE) Programme, in which Citi Global Commercial Banking mentors participating students from the school to further hone and display their entrepreneurial skills.
Following the long drive to the chocolate factory in Seri Kembangan, the students, accompanied by their teacher G. Saraswathy, made a beeline to the compact auditorium for a presentation on chocolates and all things chocolate, by Beryl's marketing executive Joe Wong.
This included a brief history of chocolates, a section on Beryl's venture into the chocolate business, the ambit of its business and how Beryl's chocolates were made.
The students learnt that the company used cocoa beans from Ghana and there was strict quality control and supervision in its production of chocolates to meet market demands.
Wong also told them that Beryl's was on the shelves in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, China, India, the Middle East, Singapore and Thailand.
Citi Global Commercial Banking head Alfred Chan said the company was privileged to have clients like Beryl's as they shared the commitment to be actively involved in nurturing young minds.
“Beryl's sets an excellent example for the students to learn from. It first started as a small enterprise in 1995 and through perseverance and determination, the company has grown to be one of Malaysia's most successful confectio-neries, with exports to countries in Asia Pacific and Japan,” Chan said.
He added that he hoped the students would take a learning curve out of the chocolate factory tour.
Prior to immersing themselves into the nitty-gritty of chocolate making, the students donned disposable caps to embark on the tour.
The students also got the opportunity to play with chocolate as they were divided into groups.
The first group made chocolate from stirring and cooling down chocolate and putting it into moulds to set, while the second group was tasked with fashioning designs unto the pralines.
The third group shouldered the responsibility of packing and sealing the pretty-looking chocolates into boxes for delivery.
Student Sonia Soon said, “We really enjoyed the entire trip to Beryl's.
”Not only did we see for ourselves how an enterprise operates, we also saw from Beryl's example that determination, integrity and hard work are three important ingredients of a successful business,” she said.
Lee Jung Yang was one of the male students who had a knack for tackling the smooth chocolate paste.
“It was fun and very insightful,” he said.
Woo Yen Mei, too, had fun at the factory but Christine Ho, a self-confessed chocolate addict, said it was a relief to know that chocolates did not cause pimples. “Now I can eat more. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to go into the factory proper to see the bigger machines at work,” she added.
Sponsored by the Citi Foundation, the AMCHAM YE Programme is an innovative, extra-curricular activity for secondary school students, selected to form “mini” companies at school.
The students, called “achievers”, learn to translate economic theories into real business and to discover for themselves what the word “enterprise” is all about.
Achievers all experience the complete business cycle, from capitalisation to voluntary liquidation, gaining an understanding of basic economics and how business works.