Dubai: Some day Maitha Al Suwaidi, a grade 11 science student, hopes to become a doctor. But she could use some entrepreneurship skills as well, to set up a business of her own, perhaps a pharmacy, she says.
Thanks to the Annual Company Programme Competition, organised by Injaz-UAE, 55 high school students like Maitha got a taste of entrepreneurship and acquired real-life skills that will help secure their future.
Maitha and her 11 classmates at Al Salam School were declared the winners for the top award — best student company of the year 2011 — for the company they created called Glights, to sell solar energy-powered lights.
Injaz UAE is the UAE arm of Junior Achievement (JA) Worldwide, a non-profit organisation that was set up in 1919 with the aim of inspiring and preparing young people to reach their potential. The annual competition is a real-life experience for students after taking the JA Company Programme.
As part of the competition, the students were challenged to come up with a business idea, study its feasibility, raise capital, write a business plan, produce and sell, and then liquidate to compete for the title.
The students were mentored by corporate volunteers over 15 weeks during the process.
Having outshone the seven other teams, the Glights team will now progress to compete against 14 counterparts from across the Arab world at the annual regional level competition which will be held in October in Abu Dhabi.
"The skills we gained here, especially about teamwork, will go a long way in helping us for the future," said Maitha. Glights also won the award for the "Best Marketing Plan".
Another student of Al Salam School, Amal Omar, received the, ‘CEO of the Year' award for the company her team created called Taif.
"Time management is the most important lesson that I learnt during the competition, while managing business studies as well," she said. "Although we were all exhausted by the end of the day, it was a very good learning experience," she added. Her company marketed the idea of Emiratis teaching expatriates about their culture and expatriates doing the same in return.
"Entrepreneurship education is at the forefront of the Middle East agenda and it is vital for students to be presented with as many experiences and opportunities as possible to prepare them for the workplace," said Shaikh Khalid Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Bin Zayed Group and Chairman of Injaz UAE.
"The ideas the students came up with were brilliant and the best part is that their companies not only looked at making profits but also at larger issues such as being environmentally friendly."