Junior Achievement Europe (JA Europe) is a pan-European network of 41 national Junior Achievement (JA) organisations that aim to teach young people as early as possible about the world of entrepreneurship and enterprise, including social entrepreneurship, to inspire and prepare them to succeed in the global economy.
Research has shown that investing in entrepreneurship education at school results in higher levels of entrepreneurship activities later in life, and is more cost-effective than later-stage efforts. Soaring youth unemployment, low uptake of entrepreneurship education and low start-up rates in many European countries encourage JA Europe’s activities to continue.
JA Europe develops programmes and activities in close cooperation with its national member organisations, which adapt the content to national curricula and conditions. They focus on developing competences such as teamwork, problem solving, leadership and creativity. They build students’ skills in turning ideas into action, managing projects or business ventures, budgeting, financial management, marketing and sales. JA organisations also provide high-quality “hands-on” training for school leaders and teachers.
There are two JA Europe programmes dedicated to social entrepreneurship education:
- Social Enterprise 360 (SE360): year-long activities where students create mini social enterprises and participate in various competitions organised by JA at the national, European and global levels.
- Social Innovation Relay (SIR): using a dedicated “match-making” platform, JA Europe pairs up teacher-led student teams from several countries with corporate volunteers from NN Group, who help them translate their concepts into viable business models for addressing social needs.
By 2017, JA organisations in Europe had reached over 3.6 million students, supported by 116,464 teachers and 146,917 business volunteers. A study on the SIR programme in 2014 revealed that 78% participating students were more confident in their ability to start a social enterprise, 86% were more aware of the social issues in their own community and 84% were more aware that social and business objectives could be complementary.
This case study was adapted from a longer piece that was published in the OECD/EC (2017), Boosting Social Enterprise Development: Good Practice Compendium. For additional information and details, please refer to the original publication.