Producing young entrepreneurs

RUN a 30-minute factory manufacturing creative photo frames at competitive prices - this was the challenge posed to 360 students from 13 secondary schools. 

They were part of the 'Young Enterprise' (YE) programme organised by the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM). The workshop at Universiti Sains Malaysia kicked off their one-year stint as “entrepreneurs”'. 

Under the programme, students (called “Achievers”) are required to set up and manage a company for one school year. Together with advisors from schools and sponsoring companies, they produce and market a product using capital they raise on their own. 

After a short briefing on the manufacturing cycle, the excited students examined their materials, and executed their plans for a marketable product. 

Using carton boxes, coloured paper, marker pens, scissors, glue, tape and rubber bands, the groups came up with a multitude of attractive photo frames. 

The workshop also required the achievers to present their marketing strategy before unveiling their quick creations. 

Elaine Chee from Convent Light Street found that teamwork is the key to a successful collaboration. “By working closely together as a team, we were able to come up with better ideas on how to manufacture a product. And we can certainly do it using materials in a limited time frame!” said the Form Four student. 

Another student and aspiring businessman, Mohd Asyraf Fadzlee, from SMS Tun Syed Sheh Shahabuddin viewed the workshop as training for his future career.  

“This workshop taught me how to set strategies in business and also to understand the role of a board of directors.” 

“The workshop today really calls into play our abilities and talents. After this simulation, I find that a Managing Director plays a very important leadership role and this job is a challenging one,” said Cheong Chin Taw, from St. Xavier's Institution.  

Also present at the event were teacher advisors and advisors from sponsor organisations committed to the year-long programme. 

New teacher advisor, Sarizal Che Man, from SMK Abdullah Munshi said the “close contact between students and advisors from sponsor organisations allows them (the students) an inside view of how business principles are put into practice.”  

An advisors workshop was organised earlier at Agilent Technologies to prepare advisors for their tasks. 

“The workshop was designed to help advisors better understand their roles as advisors to the 

students,” said Datuk Tan Bian Ee, Chairman for the YE programme in the northern region.  

Programme coordinator for the YE program Tang Hon Yin was impressed with the energy shown by the Achievers, “If a one day workshop can fire these Achievers with such enthusiasm, imagine what the nine month YE Programme can do,” he said. 

Under the Young Enterprise programme introduced to Malaysia by AMCHAM in 1989, participants learn how to manage a business through hands-on experience. 

The Achievers create a company, research a product, implement manufacturing, conduct sales, and ultimately voluntarily liquidate their enterprise. They also operate a real corporate bank account with a participating bank. 

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