JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT CYPRUS PRESS CONFERENCE: Student Entrepreneurs – Inspiring the youth of today to create a world full of possibilities

On Thursday, 12 February 2015 Junior Achievement Cyprus organised a press conference devoted to the launching of the second year of its signature ‘Company Programme’. The conference entitled ̎Student Entrepreneurs – Inspiring the youth of today to create a world full of possibilities̎, took place at the Main Headquarters of Cyta and was attended by representatives from the public sector, business sector, academic community, as well as by members of press.

This is the second year that Junior Achievement Cyprus cooperates with both public and private high schools, as well as vocational schools from all over Cyprus, through the Company Programme. This programme’s mandate is to offer high school students, aged 15-18, the opportunity to learn through practice how to take a viable business idea, from concept to actuality, by forming and running a real company for a whole academic year. The programme aims at equipping students with the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies to be hired by an employer but also to develop their own entrepreneurial initiatives in the future.

This year, 35 groups of students from 22 different schools in Cyprus, created their own company by launching innovative products and services. The student-entrepreneurs will be offered the chance to present their products by taking part in a trade fair organised by JA Cyprus. The ten most successful business ideas will move on to participate in the Company of the Year Competition that will be held on Thursday, 30 April. The winning team will be invited to represent Cyprus in the European Competition of Junior Achievement Young Enterprise (JA-YE) that will take place in July 2015 in Berlin, Germany.

The main strategic partner of JA Cyprus is Piraeus BankCyprus. Other significant partners include Cyta, MetLife Alico and the University of Nicosia. MS Jacovides is a supporter of JA Cyprus, while the Ministry of Education and Culture constitutes an institutional partner.

The Chairman of Junior Achievement Cyprus, Mr. Andreas Papadopoulos, commenced the conference by stressing that “the organization’s principal aim is to combine creativity with the required framework so that each idea realised though a business plan can be viable and successful ̎.

The General Director of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Mrs Aigli Pantelaki, highlighted that the “effective education of young people through programmes promoting entrepreneurship, creativity and team work, can decisively help Cyprus cope with the financial recession. Through the introduction of entrepreneurship programmes, the Ministry aims to equip young people to respond to the needs and demands of the contemporary labour market”.

Mr. Constantinos Loizides, Chairman of Piraeus Bank Cyprus, strategic partner of Junior Achievement Cyprus, stressed the inevitable necessity for youth entrepreneurship development in our country. “Young people tend to take more risks than the older generation, are more familiar with new technologies, have a clearer vision about their goals and expectations, and are gradually less interested in choosing the ‘safe’ employment option”.

On behalf of Cyta, the Innovation and Service Development Director, Mr. Michalis Papadopoulos, highlighted Cyta’s critical contribution to the establishment of an ecosystem for innovation in Cyprus. “Our strategic partnerships with initiatives such as Junior Achievement Cyprus and the creation of our own Innovation Centre, generates optimism in our ability to transform business ideas into start-ups. We are actively involved in formulating a new development model for our country.”

The General Director of MetLife Alico Cyprus, Mr. Antonios Karpasitis, announced MetLife Alico Foundation’s decision to offer $200,000,000 worldwide to support financial development in cooperation with Junior Achievement Cyprus. “Cyprus is one of the first countries in which MetLife Alico Cyprus has decided to support Junior Achievement as a sponsor. We hope for a lasting and fruitful cooperation”.

On behalf of the University of Nicosia, the Vice President for Development and University Relations, Prof. Nicos Kartakoullis, highlighted the innovative role of the University of Nicosia in pioneering such initiatives including the decision to “adopt and develop Junior Achievement in Cyprus five years ago. Our mandate is to create an enterprising culture among young people in Cyprus”.

In closing, Ms Eloiza Savvidou, CEO of Junior Achievement Cyprus, presented the ‘Company Programme’, explaining that this “aims not only at generating future businessmen, but also at assisting young people in developing skills and competencies that will significantly help them pursue their goals”.

JA Cyprus (www.jacyprus.org) is a member of Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise Worldwide (JA-YE), a global non-profit organisation specialised in youth entrepreneurship education, that aims in equipping young people with entrepreneurial, financial literacy and employability skills.