Officials of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) $20 Challenge are reporting some progress in getting that annual contest for teen entrepreneurs as part of the syllabus in secondary schools across Barbados.
The competition, which is in its ninth cycle, sees participating secondary school students getting $20 to start and operate a viable business over an approximately eight-week period, and in the end a winner is selected.
During the launch of this year’s challenge at Pelican Village on Thursday, Chairperson of the BEF Celeste Foster said she was satisfied with the progress being made to get more schools to accept the challenge.
However, she said the BEF was still trying to get the Ministry of Education to make entrepreneurship a part of the school’s curriculum.
“We have been writing to the Government specifically about embedding enterprising education within the school system,” said Foster.
In the meantime, she said, the BEF has been working closely with teachers providing them with training so they could participate in the “influencing of the enterprise training” in the classroom.
“What we believe is that while we cannot reach every single student through the $20 Challenge programme, if we are able to train teachers and to work with teachers and then they are able to interact with students in all disciplines, not just business, then we can move forward,” she said.
Last year when BEF outgoing champion Keith Miller called for the $20 Challenge to become part of the high school curriculum by 2020, he reported then that some schools had already adopted it.
Foster said as of last year entrepreneurship has been “put more firmly on the agenda” of the Barbados Community College.
“With regard to the secondary schools, I can say we have spoken to the Codrington School and they have embedded it into their curricula, The St Michael School and a few others. We actually now have $20 Challenge coordinators. So staff members are getting on board and they are dedicating resources,” she reported.
“The next step we think is for the Ministry to say ‘you are doing SBAs (School-based Assessment). The $20 Challenge can be used as part of your SBA,” said Foster.
As he welcomed new champion of the $20 Challenge business consultant Omar Kennedy, Miller issued a called to all Barbadians to support the drive for the growth of entrepreneurship here.
Acknowledging that not everyone would become an entrepreneur, Miller said the longevity of the challenge was an indication that the BEF was doing “the right thing”.
“At the end of the day, until our young people are given the opportunity and encouragement to develop themselves how can we expect them to develop the country, which will be their responsibility one day soon?” asked Miller.
“There is a lot of talent out there. We have seen it year in, year out, there is incredible, natural talent amongst young Barbadians. All they need is the chance to demonstrate what they are capable of,” he said.
Scotiabank is one of the major sponsors of the $20 Challenge, and Managing Director for the Eastern Caribbean David Parks said that financial institution would continue to equip young people with the necessary skills and expertise needed for them to discover their full potential.
Insisting that long-term social and economic prosperity of families and countries depended on future generations, Parks said it was for that reason Scotiabank continued to invest in a range of programmes that build young people’s confidence, grow their character and provide them with resources.
“We are dedicated to supporting the success of young people for the long-term . . . Young people are our future leaders and our goal is to help ensure that they have the necessary skills and resources they need to support their success,” Parks said.
This year 15 schools have registered for the $20 Challenge, and some 200 students between the ages of 12 and 21 are expected to benefit from the experience, which will come to an end December 31.
The BEF has introduced workshops for teachers this year and has increased the opportunities to equip students with more tools and resources by giving them more marketplace options.