Education Summer Enterprise

Why not try something different this summer? Have your kids develop their first social enterprise.

The job market as we know it is and will continue to change. Job stability as baby-boomers experienced it is long past gone. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour, the average person born between 1957 and 1964 held 11.7 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48 and nearly half of these occupations were held between 18 and 24 years old. Millennials, and even more so Generation Z, are predicted to change jobs at least double the times their parents did. Furthermore, the job market is going to change even more with the integration of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in most, if not all, economic sectors. In fact, some experts[1] predict that employment will be contract employment.

In this environment where employment is less secure and in general less available, there will be a greater interest in entrepreneurial “careers”. Veronica Colondam, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of YCAB Foundation, who is an expert from the Forum’s Young Global Leaders community, declared that the most important skill of tomorrow is an entrepreneurial spirit – and the skills to know how to apply it: “It is not enough to be innovative or collaborative, it is also about knowing when to apply each of them, and how they can be used in a business context.”

Furthermore, access to the best colleges requires more than the best grades and test scores. Admissions departments are looking to educate the leaders of tomorrow and by having on your resume the experience of starting a business or social program, you show evidence of leadership. Actually, the student who has demonstrated that he or she sees a problem or inefficiency and has the imagination and wherewithal to attempt a solution, possesses what admissions departments of top-tier colleges desire the most; the prospective student demonstrates initiative, courage to take risks and dedication. Finally, having a testimonial about their entrepreneurial experience on their resume will make him or her stand out as, let’s face it, there are plenty of prospective students with recommendation letters from teachers or coaches. Keep in mind that what admissions departments are looking for is not the innovation level of the business initiated nor its complexity or profit, but rather the demonstration of the ability to take initiatives and follow through.

Why have an entrepreneurial experience in high school?

  1. Low risk: the objective of creating a social venture for a high school student does not lie in financial profits nor does (s)he have a family to maintain. The reason why most people never try to implement their innovative ideas is because the majority of start-ups fail. But even if students do fail, the experience gained is invaluable and well worth the time invested. In addition, the sooner you can test your ideas, the better; perhaps, from an unsuccessful idea a better one will be born and with the knowledge and experience learned, chances of success increase.
  2. An easily accessible customer market: family, friends and teachers are perfect potential clients. It is very likely that people will be interested and encourage the young adult to pursue his/her entrepreneurial project and support him/her along the way. This will also come in handy when doing market research, as getting feedback from friends and teachers is relatively easy.
  3. Trends spread quickly in a high school environment and everyone is aware of them: creating a small business in response to a current trend can be easy and at the same time, meet a real demand. For example, Thomas Suarez, a 12-year-old app developer, created his app Bustin Jieber, a “whack-a-mole” game in which you pummel the Biebs. When asked why he created it, Suarez stated that, “a lot of people at school disliked Justin Bieber a little bit, so I decided to make the app.”
  4. Successful entrepreneurs love to give advice to young would-be entrepreneurs: they will make time that they wouldn’t make for anyone else, and they will speak more openly with a would-be entrepreneur than anyone else because they do not see him/her as a threat or someone with an ulterior motive.

In addition, by developing a social venture students can connect with their aspirations for a better society and use their creative talent. It invites them to take an active role as citizens, get in touch with reality and to collaboratively articulate and test workable solutions to societal challenges.

What is available in the Romandie to support your son or daughter in his/her entrepreneurial experience?

The Social Impact Award (SIA) is a competition launched among students who want to initiate social or environmental change in a constructive way. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and practice of social entrepreneurship among students in Europe. Founded in 2009 by Impact Hub Vienna, it has since grown to more than 18 countries, including Switzerland. It has been implemented for the first time in Romandie by Impact Hub Geneva.

This summer, twelve social entrepreneurial projects will participate at no cost to them in an incubation program with one-on-one mentoring sessions, entrepreneurial workshops, the support of an international community and an inspiring work environment. Each team will be assigned a mentor, a successful entrepreneur or a professional of a well-established financial corporation, UBS. Weekly entrepreneurial workshops on various business aspects ranging from IT capabilities to public speaking will be delivered by specialized business consultants. In addition, they will also have access to Impact Hub Geneva co-working space and its range of community building activities. Finally, through online platforms the teams will interact with the European entrepreneurial community of SIA 2017. The objective of the summer two-month incubation is to allow each team to evolve its idea into a viable business model. All the meetings will be accessible online and none are mandatory. Indeed, SIA’s objective is to empower young social entrepreneurs by providing them with support that is readily available, but it is the young entrepreneurs who decide if and when they need it!

The most promising projects will have the opportunity to participate in the SIA International Summit, win up to CHF 4,000 in seed funding and an additional 3-month incubation program, again at no cost.
Participation in the creation of a viable business model in a supportive environment will provide participants with transformative educational learning tools, concepts, entrepreneurial practices, and teamwork. This will enable them to realise that they can have a positive impact on society. We hope that SIA will create a favourable environment for constructive synergies from which feasible solutions to the great challenges of our time will emerge.
Applications are open until 28 May at All that is needed is an idea and your child’s commitment!

By Ilaria Marchese and Ashleigh Anderfuhren, Natural Girl Unnatural World Blog.

[1] Pwc. The Future of Work: A Journey to 2022 (n.d.): n. pag. 2014. Web.

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