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Lessons in business are now learned young

STUDENTS from St Mary’s Ang-lican Girls’ School are being taught the facts of business life.

As part of the Young Achieve-ment Australia Business Skills program, Year 11 students are managing their own lip balm manufacturing company.

Rod Collin, Peter West, Mike Merkel and Ian Hudson from 3M have been advising the fledgling entrepreneurs.

The girls meet weekly to hold general meetings and manufacture the product in one of the school’s home economics rooms.

The lip balms are made from environmentally friendly ingredients in a variety of fruit flavours.

The ‘business’ contains all standard administration departments, complete with an elected board of directors and a managing director.

Students are given roles including finance, sales and marketing, human resources management, manufacturing and even art design for the labels.

Under the business name Empiriyan, 500 shares in the company were sold in the first weeks of operation. Ownership has been restricted to ten shares per investor.

The girls received a good response when selling their product at local shopping centres during their term holidays.

Rod Collin said the program taught the students every aspect of running a small business in a hands-on manner.

“They have to raise capital, report to shareholders, deal with paperwork, open bank accounts, get insurance, deal with taxation and legal issues – the HR department has even developed a leave policy,” Mr Collin said.

“3M assist by guiding them through learning modules but we end up doing very little. This is such a dynamic group of self-starters they rarely need much assistance.”

Mr Collin has been involved in the program for more than thirteen years, and said St Mary’s was the most impressive group he had seen to date.

“Last week they were 54 per cent up on the return of shareholders funds,” he said.

“So far, they’ve acquired around $2,500 savings on a $3.50 product – which is pretty good whichever way you look at it.

“In the beginning, they perceived profit to be a dirty word but they soon learnt the manufacturing cost is a very small component of the true cost needed in order to be competitive.”

The program runs for twenty weeks and at the end the company is liquidated by the students, who give the proceeds back to the shareholders.

Mr Collin said the programs were a highly valuable experience for high school students, teaching them to apply principles learned in the classroom in a practical sense.

“These kids are the future and it’s up to us to make sure they get all the opportunities for professional development that are available,” he said.

The girls are currently forming a committee for the Young Achieve-ment Australia Trade Show to be held on 14 and 15 August in Forrest Chase.

Empiriyan will be competing for the Best Company title.

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