Future Young Entrerneneurs International Pupils Learn the Ropes

The Future Young Entrepreneurs’ start-up ideas emerged from their grappling with local issues.
The Future Young Entrepreneurs’ start-up ideas emerged from their grappling with local issues. | © Goethe-Institut Ezaius Mkandawire

A worldwide project showed pupils from seven countries what’s needed to become Future Young Entrepreneurs. In September 2016 the national winners will take part in the international weeklong competition in Berlin.

“We’re nervous, but our coach has prepared us so well that we hope we’ll win,” says pupil Pam Boesjes from the Netherlands prior to presenting her start-up idea called Fidentity. Pam and her teammates designed an innovative bike lock that works using fingerprints, making lost keys a problem of the past. Pam and her group are participants in the EU-funded school programme Future Young Entrepreneurs that teaches pupils the foundations of entrepreneurship.

All in all, 210 pupils aged 15 to 18 from India, Indonesia, Malawi, the Netherlands, Romania, Vietnam and Germany qualified for participation in the Erasmus+ programme. Except for the students from India and Vietnam, all participants are enrolled at schools or partner schools of the international network Schools: Partners for the Future (PASCH), supervised by the Goethe-Institut.

First, explains Miriam Irle, head of the project Future Young Entrepreneurs, the young people had to submit their reasons for taking part in the competition in writing. “Why do I want to be an entrepreneur? What qualifications do I possess for it?” In this way, the thirty best from each country were chosen to learn the basic skills of entrepreneurship at three workshops during the first project phase.

Two minutes for your elevator pitch

The preparatory phase included workshops about design thinking, how to draw up business plans, on intercultural business communication and the rhetorical art of the elevator pitch. “The elevator pitch required students to present their start-up idea to a jury in just two minutes as if they were talking during a quick ride on a lift,” explains project manager Irle. The young entrepreneurs were coached by experienced mentors from their home countries, who stood by their sides for the fields of law, marketing and fundraising. At the German project partner school, Gymnasium Olching, for example, they were experts from the TU München and the United Nations SEED programme to promote sustainable entrepreneurship.

The young entrepreneurs develop ideas together. The young entrepreneurs develop ideas together. | © Tessa Wiegerinck/Goethe-Institut e.V. Miriam Irle is delighted by the start-up ideas the young people developed during the workshops. All of them grapple with local issues they face at home. For example, the pupils in Vietnam created an idea for an app to help people survive in the nearby jungle, in India they invented a new walking stick that can electronically warn the blind about impediments and in Jakarta the winning start-up idea promoted smoking cessation.

Off to Berlin for the finals

After making the winning national pitch, the teams will now do traineeships at German companies in their home countries. Then, in September 2016, they will make their pitch at the international competition in Berlin. Axel Springer, Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Bahn, Pro Sieben and representatives from the Berlin founders’ scene have tentatively confirmed their participation.

Sasquia from Indonesia and Pam from the Netherlands as well as the other participants are looking forward to the final week of the competition in Berlin. They were able to meet at least virtually for an online company simulation in November to polish up their business ideas together.

And not only they, but also German pupils who were unable to take part in the project can log into the game at the Goethe-Institut’s PASCH schools to find out whether they’ve got what it takes to be entrepreneurs.

“The kids are on fire for their ideas,” says Miriam Irle. The objective of Future Young Entrepreneurs is, “to teach young people what is important for being entrepreneurs, to create career prospects and reveal alternatives. In some countries inside and outside of Europe, at more than forty percent, youth unemployment is dramatically high.” And who knows? Maybe one of the young entrepreneur teams will even manage to sell their ideas to an investor: the dream of any entrepreneur, young or old.