Start-ups as an economics educational experience
Young Enterprise Switzerland (YES) is a non-profit organisation that educates students under 18 in economics. How? By empowering pupils to establish and lead their own mini start-ups.
It all began 1999 with 12 mini start-ups. This year the program included 210 companies founded by students – a participation record!
(This year’s winners)
How does the programme work?
At its core, the program is all about learning by doing. Together with the regular school teachers, YES organizes workshops in finance, marketing and sales and so on. Additionally, pupil-groups enjoy the support from their «economic-godparents», experts who work with the program voluntarily.
The pupil-groups are structured like professional start-ups, with a CEO, a Sales Manager, etc. Their first task is to invent or determine a product they want to sell. Then the business plan must be written.
Along with the theoretical learning, the students also gain experience in how to organize trade fairs and how networking is done. Every year, there is an exhibition of their work at Zürich’s main train station. There, the regional program winner is announced, granting them the opportunity to attend the European trade fair. This fair is hosted by one of the member states of Junior Achievement Europe, where YES is a member.
What happens next?
After one year, the journey ends and the mini companies submit their annual reports and payout their dividends. In some cases, there are also start-ups like Sackstarch, Young Pepper Company or Ski Sherpa, that continue to thrive even after the program has ended.
The main goal of YES is to let the students feel the fun of living the start-up life, while minimizing their fear of taking on the responsibilities of running a business. That’s why some of the pupils will likely found new startups in the future: they are not afraid of creating something and work self-reliantly, having experienced it as part of their education.
Some known companies created by alumni YES-participants are Eat.ch, Gymhopper or Saluv Phone.