Junior Achievement Young Enterprise Malta Foundation (JAYE) concluded its 30th anniversary celebrations with its Annual Finals and Awards Night a few days ago. Recently-appointed CEO Fiona Captur revisits the events of the year, while looking ahead to new opportunities.

It has been an incredible year for the Junior Achievement Young Enterprise Malta Foundation (JAYE). For its 30th anniversary celebrations, the organisation held the Junior Achievement European Annual Conference in Malta last December, including an Entrepreneurship Education Summit. This was followed by a 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner, bringing together past and current CEOs, mentors, teachers, staff, alumni, students, sponsors and JAYE friends.

“It was an opportunity to meet all the people touched by JAYE and to see the JAYE influence feeding down the generations,” said new CEO Fiona Captur.

“Having taken a good look behind us at all our achievements, the baton has now been handed over to me to take JAYE into its next phase of growth.”

JAYE offers extraordinary experiences to people of different ages. At primary level, the organisation works on building students’ awareness of the part they ought to play in their community and society as a whole. At secondary level, the foundation promotes a more European concept of economics. There is also strong focus on the importance of continued education and the correlation between education and the working world.

The Company Programme at sixth form and the StartUp Programme at tertiary level are the basis of the – by now familiar – annual competition.

“The competition is but a means to an end,” she continued. “The JAYE experience gives our students more than business plans and financial statements. Our achievers take away life skills they didn’t know they had; skills that employers today are desperately looking for. Initiative, communication, teamwork, negotiation skills and perseverance complement the business and financial acumen they learn, making them more work-ready.”

The 2019 Company Programme winners announced at the Awards were Code B, from GF Abela Junior College, who were named Company of the Year. YGM from St Edward’s College won the Best Presented Financial Statements Award, while the Best Business Plan Award and Best Digital Marketing Awards went to Exhale, from St Aloysius College. Enlight, also from St Aloysius College, won the Best Human Resources Award, while the EFQ Quality in Excellence Award was won by AIDA from GF Abela Junior College. Rel8 from St Aloysius College was named Best Social Enterprise.

The StartUp of the Year 2019 Award was won by JAXI, from St Martin’s Institute. Other StartUp winners were IntolerEat from the University of Malta, which was awarded the Best Social Enterprise Award, and Rizerve from St Martin’s Institute won the Best Business Potential Award. Finally, Elaine Busuttil Gili from St Edward’s College won the John Harper Award, and the Philip Bonnet Award for Perseverance was awarded to Andrew Emanuel Attard, from the University of Malta.

“We were awed and humbled to have been selected as finalists,” said the students behind Code B. “So, when we won JAYE Malta Company of the Year Award, we could not

have been happier. What started as a simple idea eventually came to fruition as BIN IT, a product that is now used by hundreds of households in Malta and Gozo. This experience has been like no other, and one that taught us new skills that we could not have learnt academically in a class.”

JAXI’S team members were equally enthusiastic. “The announcement provided a moment of true happiness. We couldn't believe we had really made it, together, as a team. We worked hard to achieve this. We received a lot of valuable advice from our mentors and judges, and are very appreciative of it.

“Winning did not come easy,” they added. “It required diligence, energy and long hours. Yet we believe that we can now apply the new skills we learned to the real business world.”

“The critical point is that while we have winning teams, the individual experience for each achiever makes them all winners. Managing disappointment and learning from it is equally part of that journey,” emphasized Captur. “The winners now head for the JA European Finals where standards are very high so while excited, they really need to up their game!”

Taking a walk down memory lane, Captur recalled being actively involved in the setup of the then-Young Enterprise 30 years ago.

“We had one desk phone and one floppy disk on a shared PC. No e-mail or mobiles – nothing. What certainly hasn’t changed is the passion that inhabits all those involved with JAYE. On the other hand, the products the students come up with reflect an interesting evolution – going from clocks and cork mats in the 1980s to apps and technology now.”

Looking ahead, Captur affirmed that entrepreneurship education is critical in a constantly-evolving world, and needs its place in the school curriculum. To this end, JAYE will be participating in the JA European Entrepreneurship Education Summit in Lille, France, this July. It will bring together European governments, businesses, NGOs, researchers and educators, and its mission is to increase the quantity, quality and impact of entrepreneurship education in Europe.

“Students need to keep evolving in a world where we do not understand what tomorrow’s jobs will require,” she added. “In this competitive world we live in, the skills JAYE imparts are critical.”

JAXI – StartUp of the Year Winners – St Martin’s InstituteJAXI – StartUp of the Year Winners – St Martin’s Institute