Students create international joint ventures and gain entrepreneurship experience abroad.
Students from Northern European countries within the project “Central Baltic Student Enterprises without Borders” on the first year have established 28 international joint ventures. The aim of the project is to encourage creating international student companies involving students from four countries – Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Sweden - and establishing 50 joint ventures during the three years’ the project will take place. Students participate with their companies in international trade fairs taking place in the project’s countries and present their business to the jury. Teacher – consultant – training takes place each year in order to successfully coordinate the work of the students.
During the first year more than 200 students, 70 teachers and 35 mentors from participating countries were involved in the project.
Epp Vodja, CEO of Junior Achievement Estonia: “This project is aimed to give young people an insight to international business and working in multinational teams. No business can be successful without crossing borders nowadays and the sooner the new generation understands it, the better their prospects for the future are.”
In the first year of the project the joint ventures created many great ideas such as berry lemonade, candles, wooden cups with a special design, phone accessories, board games and products for tourists. The companies also collaborated with each other in sales and marketing, for example selling each other’s products in their own countries.
One of the best and positive examples of collaboration is the joint venture Jenny’s Café. Students from Latvia, Estonia and Sweden participated in this team and together found a common aim and were able to successfully work together. As teammates from Jenny’s Café acknowledge: “We have learnt how to work in a team and organize the business with those involved in it living in different countries. We have gained new friends and traveled to a part of Scandinavian and Baltic countries.”
One of the most active schools from Latvia which is involved in the project is Jelgava Spīdola Gymnasium. Its math’s teacher Margita Jirgensone evaluates the project as a good challenge for the students to gain international experience and establish joint companies: “Sometimes it’s difficult to collaborate even with classmates but this international collaboration requires a high level of responsibility, patience, ability to take initiative and find a compromise as well as understanding cultural differences. To achieve the goals of the project, the school involved new teachers in entrepreneurial education, and it’s team became even stronger!”
Both, the students and the teachers, mention the possibility to gain experience by communicating and cooperating with representatives from other countries and traveling as the main pros of the project. However the biggest challenge has been the effort to find a common aim and achieve good results, as well as learning to sell their products internationally. The youth acknowledges that the meetings of the team should happen more often in order to strengthen the ongoing co-operation because some of the joint ventures didn’t last till the end of the schoolyear.
For the next year organizers will make changes in the time schedule and content to give the students the possibility to work more on the collaboration and team-building, and creating innovative products. The teachers will also have an important part in sustaining the co-operation between students by strengthening their own collaboration and communication across the schools and countries.
The lead project partner is Junior Achievement Eesti (Estonia). The project partners also include Junior Achievement Latvija (Latvia), Nuori Yrittäjyys (JA-YE Finland) and Ung Företagsamhet Sverige (Young Enterprise Sweden). Project is taking place from September 2015 till April 2019. Project is financed by Interreg Central Baltic program from the European Regional Development Fund.