Nonprofit gives high schoolers a taste of the business world

A large crowd surrounds the booth of Beijing No 171 High School at China World Mall, which is selling a self-developed product-a cleansing spray for sneakers-at an indoor fair organized by the nonprofit Junior Achievement China.

Female high schooler Liu Yiyang, 16, who’s standing at the booth, holds a bottle and a white sneaker with stains on it.

She sprays the cleanser onto the stained shoe and explains. “Just spray and wipe-two simple moves, and your sneakers are as clean as new.”

Liu is the research and development manager of MudEx, a company formed by four high school students.

The students developed the product in a laboratory after many days and nights of trials, and finally achieved third place in a recent contest, which was part of a public education week, held to celebrate JA’s 100th anniversary. Students from 10 high schools in Beijing participated in the event.

The company program created by JA China, using advanced educational concepts and international resources, aims to help juniors get a better understanding of business and financial concepts before they enter adult life. It presents this as a club activity or elective course, and those students involved meet their instructors every week for one or two hours.

According to the organizers, some 4,330 volunteer instructors took part in the program in the past year, mentoring about 214,000 students.

Such courses have been run for students ranging from elementary school age to college, and are taught by volunteer educators from corporations representing various professions, such as finance and business law. For example, instructors for Liu’s company were from the legal department of Amazon China.

According to a volunteer instructor surnamed Qiu, they teach students basic marketing, economics, and financial knowledge, and assist the students in running a simulated company, besides teaching them about team building, market research, and sales techniques.

Before the fair, participants gave PowerPoint presentations to a panel of judges, who then attended the fair as visitors to interact with the students. Shoppers at the China World Mall were also invited to attend the fair as ordinary consumers.

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