Budding entrepreneurs at regional JA meeting
It was the friendly people and the beauty of the country we saw on a previous visit that made us decide to hold the conference in Sri Lanka in spite of the volatile security and political situation in the country - Linda Claflin, Senior Vice President
for JA Worldwide for Asia.
The room was full of budding entrepreneurs. It was the Asia Pacific Regional Conference of Junior Achievement Worldwide, being held at the Galle Face Hotel and the students following the High Level Programmes of the Young Entrepreneurs of Sri Lanka (YESL), as the local franchise is called, were participants at the trade fair of the school stalls.
|Items on display. Pix by J Weerasekera
The Rolling Star Company, had on display their products which consisted of key tags, pendants and rings made of coconut and “beli” fruit shells.
Hailing from Sri Sangabodhi Maha Vidyalaya in Bandarawela, company officials told The Sunday Times FT that they themselves manufactured their products and sold it within the school.
The business is a fully-fledged business with a board of directors, business plans, accounts and everything else that comes with a business.
The profit gained from the business ventures are then deposited in a current account and the companies even go so far as issuing cheques.
There were schools from areas such as Mahiyanagana, Diyatalawa and Kalutara, representing all parts of the island, with the exception of the North and the East. Their wares included jewellery, T-shirt and clothes, wall hangers and handicrafts.
Also present at the conference were past members of the YESL who were active and successful as members and went on to achieve great success after leaving school and leaving the programme. Premasiri Weliwita, Chief Executive Officer of the YESL told The Sunday Times FT that there are about 40 such members involved in fields as diverse as business, banking and even compering.
The Junior Achievement (JA) Asia Pacific Regional Conference is being held in Sri Lanka for the very first time since the inception of the YESL in 1998. Sri Lanka was selected as the host nation as recognition of the past performance of the YESL. YESL has a membership of approximately 40,000 students from around 407 schools and have trained over 1600 teachers.
Linda Claflin, Senior Vice President for JA Worldwide for Asia, Pacific and Americas told The Sunday Times FT that it was the friendly people and the beauty of the country she saw on a previous visit that made them decide to hold the conference in Sri Lanka in spite of the volatile security and political situation in the country. “It is also easier for some of the other participants to get here,” she said, speaking of the delegates from countries such as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Azerbijn, Korea, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and the USA.
Speaking of the advantages of being in the YESL programme, Claflin said, “It builds self confidence, it teaches them how to run an actual business practically instead of theoretically and they learn many skills that are needed for this.”
Among the plans that JA has for Sri Lanka is to train the staff on strategic planning, on new plans and on how to build a good board of directors, Claflin explained.