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Unternehmergeist macht Schule (Entrepreneurial Spirit in Schools)
This programme encourages pupils and school students to develop their own innovative business ideas, and found and manage a company. The entrepreneurial themes can be integrated into lessons in a variety of ways, depending on the type of school and age of the pupils.
Together with the “Entrepreneurial Spirit in Schools in Berlin” network, the Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research works to promote school children’s interest in and enjoyment of economic topics.
School children need to be encouraged to learn about the economy and economic issues at an early age. In this process, the basic concepts can be explained, parents informed, speakers invited, and the first building blocks laid for future projects.
Finding a Business Idea
Every enterprise starts from an idea, and innovative ideas are a key factor in the success of any school start-up. As part of a brainstorming session, pupils develop the suggestions commensurate with their own skills and expertise. Here, the potential realisation of the business idea also plays an important role.
The business plan is the cornerstone of any enterprise. It details the business idea and develops the steps and measures to put it into practice. In addition, a business plan includes market analysis, a marketing and sales plan, a capital requirement plan, and risk analysis with risk management strategies.
The School Start-up in Practice
Once the idea has been given a concrete form, the school start-up begins to function actively as a business. At this point, the enterprise divides into a number of departments, chooses a company name, opts for a suitable legal form, generates seed capital, holds meetings, establishes accounting procedures, keeps minutes of the meetings and sells the company product.
A range of school competitions create a forum where pupils can measure their achievements against others, see what other ideas have been developed, and meet other enthusiastic young entrepreneurs. These competitions are not only held on regional and national levels, but also internationally. The competition jury assesses – either in reality or as a strategic planning game – whether a business idea can really survive on the market, and judges the quality of the team. As a result, such competitions offer a constructive platform for young entrepreneurs. A list of school start-up competitions can be found on the Unternehmergeist in die Schulen webpage of the German national network.
For school start-ups, it is essential to encourage a vibrant exchange of views between the pupils and business sector representatives. Business and industry can also benefit from the innovative ideas and questions put forward by these young entrepreneurs. Schools may, for example, invite business community speakers to give a talk, look for sponsors for a school start-up, or take school classes to visit companies. In this way, young people not only gain a realistic insight into recent enterprises and market conditions, but companies can also profit from the pupils’ innovative ideas and questions.
And the next step is….?
A number of factors have to be borne in mind when transferring an idea for a school start-up into the real world. After all, a school project is still removed from reality. To be successful, start-ups need the right advice from the outset. Here, for instance, the institutions supporting this programme offer a range of useful workshops as well as consultancy and funding services.
Berliner Schüler Unternehmen (Berlin Coordination Office for School Start-ups)
The Berlin coordination office for school start-ups supports school enterprises from their initial idea to a successful launch. It advises young people and teachers on the process of setting up a business, the daily tasks and further development. The coordination office also supports school start-ups with training workshops and a network providing an exchange of experience. In addition, the office cooperates with the companies involved in school start-ups to ensure that the children and young people have a firm grasp of the economics of their plans and can transfer their ideas into reality.
business@school, an initiative of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), offers senior high school students the chance to take a closer look at how business, markets and companies work over the course of one school year. Supported by BCG consultants and volunteers from other participating companies, the students also learn to develop and present their own business plans.
Ich mach mich selbständig! (I want to be self-employed!)
School, training, university … and then? Our answer: “Become self-employed!” This initiative, supported by the Berlin Chamber of Commerce (IHK), sets out to make young Berliners aware of, interested in and enthusiastic about self-employment as a career path.
The JUNIOR programme, which has now gained classic status among school start-up programmes, helps pupils and high school students to found a school start-up and join a team as an “entrepreneur” for one school year. JUNIOR was launched in 1994 and is managed by the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln (Cologne Institute for Economic Research) JUNIOR gGmbH.
Partner Schule Wirtschaft – PSW
PSW (Partner School Business) sets out to systematically integrate and anchor vocational practice in everyday school life and improve the transition from school to the world of training / work and university, in particular by:
Supporting and intensifying contacts and cooperation between schools and businesses / universities,
Initiating and promoting networks to strengthen the awareness of vocational careers and higher education,
Organising and implementing skills courses and workshops for teachers.
Schülerfirmenmesse im FEZ (FEZ Start-up Fair for Schools)
Every two years, the FEZ leisure park in Berlin hosts a school start-up fair. The presentations not only highlight the wealth of practical projects developed by school start-ups, but also provide information on a wide variety of workshops. The Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research is a long-term partner of the FEZ start-up fair for schools.
Schüler im Chefsessel (Pupils in the Director’s Chair)
The Pupils in the Director’s Chair project allows school students to accompany an entrepreneur inside and outside the company for one working day. Afterwards, each student taking part writes an essay on their experience of the working world and what they have learnt. The project is run throughout Germany under the auspices of the DIE JUNGEN UNTERNEHMER – BJU, the German Federal Association of Young Entrepreneurs, which promotes the interests of young family businesses and owner-entrepreneurs.