Shaping the next generation of Kootenay entrepreneurs

JABC wants YOU!

Junior Achievement British Columbia needs qualified businessmen and businesswomen to help educate children about communication, collaboration and leadership in the business world.

Junior Achievement British Columbia needs qualified businessmen and businesswomen to help educate children about communication, collaboration and leadership in the business world. — Photo courtesy Alanna Tynan

Have you ever felt called to mentor young, aspiring business entrepreneurs? If so, here’s a great opportunity to share the knowledge you’ve gained from your years of experience in the business world.

Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC) is a global non-profit dedicated to educating youth in business and leadership. JABC seeks out local business mentors to have a direct impact on youth in their communities. The organization then partners them with classrooms to share their real-life experiences to empower youth with tools for job readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Volunteers from all different backgrounds are given the opportunity to make an impact on classrooms through easily accessible program templates.

Volunteer shortage

“The problem that we are facing right now is that schools are desiring more and more programs but we don't have enough qualified volunteers to serve them,” said Alanna Tynan, program co-ordinator for JABC’s Columbia Basin South. “Volunteers are only required to dedicate a couple of hours of their time and the impact has been proven to go great lengths for local youth.”

Assuming you’ve amassed some experience along your business journey, this applies to you. You could have a profound impact on the next generation of entrepreneurs. It’s a big responsibility, but someone needs to step up and do it. Fortunately, a system is already in place to help volunteers transition from business owners to educators.

Getting started

Volunteers are given a package that includes a PowerPoint template for them to follow and corresponding workbooks and interactive games for each student. They prepare before going into the classroom and are supported by the program co-ordinator, which is Tynan in the Columbia Basin South region.

JABC’s three pillars are work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

JABC’s three pillars are work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. — Photo courtesy Alanna Tynan

“The real-world experiences of the volunteer really enhance the conversation and intrigue the students,” said Tynan. “Sharing what the volunteers have learned in their own careers—the ups and downs along the way—provides a glimpse into what challenges students might encounter. This equips them with tools and education to get through it.”

The three pillars

JA programs are designed around three pillars: work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. “These subjects aren’t always part of the regular school curriculum,” said Tynan. “We believe these are important skills for all children to learn to succeed in today’s global economy. JA also focuses on 21st century skills, which include things like communication, collaboration and leadership.”


JABC’s reach in continuing to grow. The organization is currently in 56 of 60 B.C. school districts.

“Thanks to support from organizations such as Columbia Basin Trust, our programs are growing in number throughout the Kootenay regions,” said Tynan. “We have programs that are being delivered in both elementary, middle and high schools. We are beginning to line up volunteers for fall.”

Time commitment

The programs can be condensed into a couple of short classroom visits or run over a series of four weeks for one hour each visit. It depends on the needs of the teacher and volunteer. JABC programs are flexible enough to fit different schedules.

“One thing that has worked really well for us in the past has been to partner with businesses that send their employees as representatives on work time,” Tynan said. “Presenters often love to work in tandem and this can make for a great experience for everyone involved while doubling as team building for a local business’s employees.”

Profound impact

In the span of a few hours, students are able to take what they’ve learned and visualize new goals for their future.

“I love hearing the originality of the ideas that youth come up with after having been inspired by the programs and volunteers,” said Tynan. “I feel like the experience really broadens the perspectives of local youth and allows them to dream beyond their lines of sight.”

Are you up for the challenge of inspiring eager young minds? If so, get in touch with Tynan at [email protected]

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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