Junior Achievement’s (JA) Company Program is the ultimate training ground for young entrepreneurs. Over the course of the 18 week program, students in grades 8 – 12 create a business, develop a business plan, market and sell their product, liquidate their business, and learn much more along the way, such as HR and health and safety practices. They learn the ins and outs from JA’s incredible volunteers from the business community, who support and guide the students with their real world knowledge.
We spoke with four groups of young entrepreneurs about their Junior Achievement Companies to learn more about their business and hear more about what they’ve learned on their entrepreneurial journeys.
Splash, a JA Company
Splash is a company we started to promote an eco-friendly cleanliness product for a time where better disinfection is important. Each artisan soap we craft is made with natural ingredients, has biodegradable packaging, and contains a package of seeds which can be planted inside! The seed package is made up of reused plastic bags to provide a watertight seal. Through our soaps we aim to ‘Make a Splash’ in our local community by promoting wellness and the environment.
There are multiple factors which led the members of our team to be interested in entrepreneurship. After discussing things with our team the reason we believe best describes what led us to a fascination with business is that we found inspiration in the accomplishments of other great entrepreneurs like Elon Musk or Oprah Winfrey. We saw how entrepreneurship can be used to create genuine change, to solve problems, and to give back to our communities.
Along the way we have learned how to better reach people online. Making sales in person is hard as things are, but presenting your cause online is even more difficult due to the lack of personal interactions. These circumstances have challenged us to think outside the box and to innovate, exploring different avenues of online marketing and communication.
The next steps for our business are to explore options regarding online marketing and focus more intensely on how to better reach people online and through social media. Currently we’ve tried using ads through Facebook and Instagram but have found they reach far less people than we had hoped. Other things we would like to try looking into are reaching out to specific online groups on Facebook and other social media sites rather than using targeted ads. We also hope to develop closer relationships with our local communities, both through our customers and our charitable organizations.
Zen, a JA Company
Our company is called Zen, a JA Company. Our mission is to provide carefully handcrafted bath bombs to our consumers which allows them to relax, relieve stress, and soothe their muscles.
Our company is composed of teenagers from all across the city. We are a very diverse company. Everyone that is part of our company is passionate in entrepreneurship and all collaborated to come up with the idea of our product.
Our company has learned quite a bit along the way. We’ve learned how to overcome challenges such as forgetting production materials at home. Our members have learned how to better sell the products after struggling with sales and due to the current situation. We’ve learned how to properly run a business/company and all the aspects of it.
Zen is just going to keep growing. We’ll continue to push out our products to any consumers who would like it. We are passionate to have our product available for everyone in the Edmonton area and we are doing this by offering delivery as well. We want everyone to have the opportunity to relax and unwind with our bath bombs.
UpScarfed, a JA Company
Our business is eco-friendly hair scarves made from upcycled material. Our mission is to provide eco-friendly, reusable, and trendy hair scarves at an affordable price made from recycled materials. We hope to inspire the fashion industry to find an alternative to fast fashion.
Our company was interested in creating a business and being more exposed to the business world. Our goals going into the program where to get experience, learn, and create connections with other people from the business industry.
The main concept that we can all take out of this is how to work with a team and strategize to form a strong connection with each other. As well, how to find solutions and adapt to conflicts as they arise.
We are currently trying to grow our product in the digital market by selling through our website and advertising on social media. Along with that, finding ways to safely continue production.
Escential, a JA Company
Escential, a Junior Achievement Company, provides organic and homely scents with a classy design as an alternative to generic chemical fresheners. Escential’s product is a bow-tie shaped, handcrafted car freshener made of felt and scented with lavender, jasmine, and lemon essential oil, which will provide a much more classy feel than a conventional car freshener while also producing a more organic and pleasant scent. The product comes in blue, red, and black, and is accented with white or black sewing thread.
I was about 10 years old when I first realized what entrepreneurship was, I came home from school and enjoyed watching “Dragons Den”. Seeing different startups, understanding their product, watching them pitch it and finally understanding the financial aspect of it and investing in startups was intriguing. I knew that entrepreneurship was a skill I’d like to acquire and pursue as a career, or intertwine it with my career.
One of the biggest lessons for me was to expect the unexpected. I realized how much of a gamble startups are after being part of this program. As a business we had to learn tangible marketing and then apply it; we used this strategy in previous years when we sold at farmers markets throughout Edmonton and Sherwood Park. Through this process I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the financial aspects of a business and learned interpersonal & networking skills. A key to a successful business is building relationships within the company and learning how to convert any situation into an opportunity.
We are continuing production remotely with a dispersed production line in order to use up materials we already have and to build up a stockpile for when we are able to sell again. The President of the company and Vice President of Human Resources work together in order to keep the company connected and ensure everything is being done systematically and safely by being in contact on a weekly basis to check in and get updates from all departments. We are actively looking for ways to sell remotely to friends & family.
Company Program accepts online registrations at www.janorthalberta.org. Junior Achievement also offers half day in-school programs that teach financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship to students in grades 3 – 12. These are led by volunteers from the world of business, but can be teacher led as well. During the pandemic, JA has made several self-directed programs for all ages available online to help Alberta teachers and families during this difficult time. Please visit www.janorthalberta.org to find out more. Junior Achievement Northern Alberta was established in 1964 and continues each year to inspire and prepare our young people to succeed in a global economy.