YOUNG ENTERPRISE SWITZERLAND: YES Company Program

 

Year of Grant: 2016

Location: Switzerland

Young Enterprise Switzerland (YES) is a non-profit association founded in 2006 as a result of a merger between Young Enterprise and Junior Achievement. YES develops and runs practice-oriented business training programs for students with the aim of interlinking the economy with schools. It offers three program lines: “Our community” (primary school),
“Personal Economics” (secondary I), and “Company Program” (secondary II).


Open to all grammar schools, commercial colleges, vocational schools and training colleges across Switzerland, the Company Program requires students (aged 16 – 20) to work in teams of 4 – 5 members. The individual teams will set up and manage a mini-company over a year, developing financial knowledge and soft organizational skills, including team work, sense of responsibility.

 

Most importantly, they will experience first-hand what it takes to be an entrepreneur. They will get to develop a business idea, define a product or a service, design a logo and a website, write business plan, designate their roles (e.g., CEO, CFO, etc.), optimize the production process and sell their products on the market.


The work is supervised by the students’ teacher and if desired, by a business mentor working on a voluntary basis. The young entrepreneurs also get support from a YES program manager. As with every other business, these mini-companies depend on seed capital, which is provided via the sales of participation shares with a maximum value of CHF 3,000. At the end of the
school year, the company is liquidated and participation share is paid back.


The Company Program is integrated into the regular school lessons, generally two lessons per week. However, most of the teams invest many more hours in their free time, demonstrating their commitment to the project.

 

Throughout the year, the mini companies participate in regional trade fairs, where they are assessed by various judges. The top 50 teams are invited to participate in the national trade fair with the top 25 attending the final national competition. The winning team will take part in the European trade fair.

 

YES additionally provides students who pass the course with an Entrepreneurial Skills Pass, a certificate that accounts for their entrepreneurial knowledge. In 2015, the success rate of this exam was 78%.