Even school kids start up new businesses in Sweden
In Sweden, surprisingly entrepreneurship education is provided not only for college students, but also for elementary and high school students.
This is because they believe that young people’s startup can become the lifeblood of the economy. They deem that this sort of education should be offered to children at an early age.
Peter Drucker mentioned that entrepreneurship can be acquired through education. Sweden has practiced this and achieved splendid results.
Since 1990, the government has been geared toward strategic R&D by collaborating with industry and academia, and has promoted startups. Now the number of startups (per capita) is four times as much as in Japan.
Company Program (UF-företagande)
Company Program is an educational program in entrepreneurship provided by NPO Junior Achievement for elementary and high school students all over Sweden. Junior Achievement started offering this program from 1980.
Every year, 25,000 high school students (one out of four), which account for 8% of all Swedish high school students, founded thousands of companies as part of entrepreneurship education and they experience the management of a firm during an academic year.
In order for students to join this very practical program, registration is needed. The registration usually opens on 1 September, but the process is very simple.
- Register at Ung Företagsamhets website
- Pay the registration fee of 300 SEK per company (not per person).
- State your company name when you pay the registration fee through your bank.
- Ready to start working on your business.
According to Ungforetagsamhet, in all categories (except for regional offices), the number has increased recently. Their 2016-2017 fact sheet shows
- Number of Junior Achievement regional offices: 24 (24)
- Number of student companies: 8,603 (8,243)
- Number of student participants: 27,769 (26,430)
- Number of active Company Program teachers: 1,657 (1,648)
- Number of mentors: 8,991 (7,420)
- Number of schools offering Company Program: 581 (607)
- Number of total participants since 1980: circa 350,000
*2016/2017 (2015/2016 numbers in parenthesis)
Every year, a qualifying competition is also held and it motivates students’ entrepreneurial acumen.
They actually experience establishing a company, running a business, earning money, paying taxes and even liquidating a company.
The reason why the program includes liquidation is to let students experience how it feels to deal with customers when closing a business.
Interestingly enough, the business area is very diverse.
nEthics was founded by four high school students in order to provide elementary school students with lessons for the purpose of the prevention of cyberbullying for a fee.
This company received high acclaim from society and considered even internationalization of the business. Consequently, they visited Japan to do market research in 2015 and impacted Japanese people who engaged with them.
Adelsö Design is a furniture manufacturer founded by three high school students. The CEO Kevin was also interested in this field because his father is a carpenter.
He used to design tables and uploaded the designs on the Internet, but immediately he met with a lot of positive responses, and then decided to take the Company Project in order to start his own business.
Just after starting an order service (October 2016), more than 10 products were sold.
Through the Company Project, students are expected to acquire the know-how to start up a business and obtaining a problem-solving ability.
This is also one of the reasons why Sweden has been able to create such an entrepreneur-friendly environment.
Entrepreneurship education for high school students might become the next international trend.