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Driving entrepreneurship through the JA Company Programme

Swati Patel, Senior Vice President Community Development EMEA, Citi

I was first introduced to Junior Achievement and Young Enterprise 10 years ago when my then 15 year old son was taking part in JA’s Company Programme. I can remember as a proud parent attending the finals and eagerly looking for a front row seat in the host company’s auditorium and loudly cheering for my son’s team - they were runners up and we still have a few of the coat hangers they made at home.


Little did I know then that today I would be managing a Citi/JA partnership that is focused on the delivery of a youth entrepreneurial skills programme in 36 countries across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Thereby enabling over 150,000 students to develop employability/entrepreneurial skills as well as engaging 200 Citi volunteers as mentors, judges, and guest speakers.

Today, as we see youth unemployment so high, initiatives run by organisations like Junior Achievement can help young people gain employment. Interestingly, the European Commission is now promoting the importance of giving a young person practical entrepreneurial experience before they leave school. That’s because, even if they don’t found a business, such learning can help develop essential employability skills. According to a Citi Foundation/JA report, titled “Generation Jobless”: substantive interventions over an extended period of time can very effectively address climbing levels of youth unemployment.

Subsequent to my first interaction with JA, I have had the opportunity to attend a few competitions as a judge/observer both in UK and across the world and have been really impressed with the impact that the initiative is having on young people. Just last month I was a judge at the London finals and saw first-hand the quality of not only the products that have been developed, but the way that young people have been able to think creatively and apply business acumen skills that they have learned and hopefully will apply them for years to come. This is probably the first entry to the World of Work for most and what a great way to start their journey to employment!

So on 28th July 2015 all roads lead to Berlin where 37 mini-companies (like my son ‘s team 10 years prior) will tell their stories of how their enterprises are the best – and will be able to shine across Europe!

Category : Entrepreneurship, JA Europe Network, JA Worldwide Network, Entrepreneurship Education Posted : 24 July 2015 09:06 UTC
About the Author
Swati Patel, Senior Vice President Community Development EMEA, Citi

Swati has over 25 years experience in developing and implementing Corporate Social Responsibility programmes both in the UK and globally, having worked for 4 FTSE 100 companies, as well as a UK Government department. Significant success at a senior level in developing strategies and implementing creative initiatives by working closely with regulators and national government departments and other key stakeholders across the world.

In particular managing the Citi/Junior Achievement partnership spanning 36 countries across Europe, Middle East and Africa focused on invigorating a culture of entrepreneurship and work-readiness skills for young people.

In December 2012 , Swati was awarded the Business in the Community Game Changer award by HRH Prince Charles for her “energy and passion as a Game Changer and advancing the UK responsible business movement forward.”

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