Four UAE high school teams raced neck to neck to collect the Best Company Award at the 1st Annual Company Program Competition organized by INJAZ-UAE, on May 10 this week.
The competition is designed to plant the passion and zeal for business innovation in young students and is the culmination of a 12-week program conducted at Dubai public schools with the help of private sector volunteers from ABRAAJ and Intel Corporation.
Speaking of the experience Imtiaz Ali, a volunteer from ABRAAJ, said: “I am thrilled to see the transformation in my students. They have taken their first steps towards great things and I wish them the very best.”
A panel of judges from Citibank, ExxonMobil, HSBC and Shell rated the student ‘companies’ on their entrepreneurial skills, product innovation, teamwork, business skills, company management and marketing creativity. Finalists from the Zaabeel Public School for Girls and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Public School for Boys were judged through an audience presentation, a mini-exhibition showcasing their products and a grueling closed-door panel interview.
“The Company Program is a global concept applied by Junior Achievement. It is designed to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation at an early age and is the only such program in the country that targets school children. Our surveys show that over 20% of Company Program participants go on to open their own business as opposed to the 2% national average,” said Sheikh Khalid Bin Zayed Bin Saqer Al Nehayan, Vice Chairman of INJAZ Al-Arab and Chairman of INJAZ – UAE.
INJAZ-UAE is a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide (JAW), the largest non-profit business education organization in the world. JAW teaches entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness programs in schools through private sector volunteers. This spring term, INJAZ-UAE has brought together over 80 volunteers to teach five world class business literacy programs to over 1000 students across 12 schools in the UAE. In the Middle East, INJAZ Al-Arab, the regional branch of JA, has trained over 300,000 Arab students since 1999. Globally, over 384,925 Junior Achievement volunteers teach 367,305 classes to 9,326,748 students annually.
The JA Company Program turns the classroom into an actual company. The students come up with an idea, study its feasibility, sell stocks to raise capital, divide into management teams, produce a business plan, produce and sell a product or service and finally liquidate the company. Students are encouraged to use innovative thinking to learn business skills that support positive attitudes as they explore and enhance their entrepreneurial career aspirations.  
An audience of key UAE business leaders, educationalists and private sector volunteers also visited student stands to view final products. The winning team, Al Ameen from Mohammed Bin Rashid Public School for Boys, was mentored by volunteers from Intel Corporation and will proceed to the Regional MENA INJAZ Al-Arab Company Program Competition in Beirut this summer.
“Volunteerism is part of Intel’s values”, said Nawras Sawsou, a Volunteer from Intel Corporation.

“Last year, marking Intel’s 40th anniversary, we committed 1 million hours of volunteer service to local communities worldwide. As part of this 1 million hour, we expanded our relationship with INJAZ Al–Arab by pledging to donate a thousand hours of training time across the region. We are thrilled that the team from Mohammed Bin Rashid Public School that we mentored won the UAE competition and we wish them the best of luck for the MENA INJAZ Al-Arab Company Program Competition in Beirut,” he added.

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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