Exclusively written for the Sting by Anna Carolina Zimmermann, Brazilian Ambassador of the Brazilian Confederation of Junior Enterprises – Brasil Júnior in JADE – the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises
According to Steven Edwards from UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), there are about 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world – the largest youth population ever, most of them concentrated in developing countries. One of those countries is Brazil, which is also experiencing the “demographic bonus” – expression used to describe when the working population is very large. Bonus in this sense means that the balance between the active population and non-active one is still positive, but over the years the demographic pyramid can be reversed and social security can became a big problem if the today’s youth do not learn how to be more fruitful.
With this scenario in mind, comes the question: how to engage youth and train them to became more productive? In Brazil, the answer is becoming even clearer: Junior Enterprises.
Junior Enterprises are non-profit organizations, founded and managed by university students. The concept was created in France aiming to complement the academic training through practical experience. The students that are members of this network are called junior entrepreneurs and they are equipped with skills as leadership, systemic view, strategic thinking and management.
In Brazil this model is known since 1988. Nowadays, the country has more than 12,000 junior entrepreneurs per year and 1,000 Junior Enterprises of which Brasil Júnior, the Brazilian Confederation of Junior Enterprises, regulates 311.
Brasil Júnior represents and gives supports to the Brazilian JEs with a diverse portfolio. The work is divided in three pillars: to develop the network, to form entrepreneurs and to impact the ecosystem. Among the products that Brazil Júnior delivers there are platforms to connect junior entrepreneurs with companies that are willing to hire young talents; researches to understand the network and national and international meetings. In 2016, Brazil will host the Junior Enterprise World Conference (JEWC) that will gather 4,000 junior entrepreneurs from all over the world, being the largest youth entrepreneurship event ever held. It will take place in Florianópolis, from 20th to 24th of July.
To Brasil Júnior, the Junior Enterprises are not just a mean to boost the student’s curriculum, but they are also a way of giving purpose to the student’s work and lives. The mission of the Junior Enterprise Movement in Brazil is “to transform university students in entrepreneurs that are capable and committed to change the country”. The same network is committed to build a “Entrepreneur Brazil”: More competitive- with better companies, better government and better universities; more ethic – committed with the truth; more educator – empowering people to make the necessary changes; more collaborative – in which the players are connected and generate micro revolutions in all the country.
Education is the greatest pillar of the Junior Enterprise Network. According to Brasil Júnior, to have access to information allows more conscious decisions and actions both individually and collectively. The movement’s mindset influences not only the current junior entrepreneurs, but also the alumni network. Diego Calegari, an alumni and former President of the Brazilian Confederation of Junior Enterprises, noticed that the Brazilian citizens had interest in understanding the country context, but in the other hand had a lack of political education. He saw an opportunity and launched Politize!, an online platform with high quality information to teach “policy without complication”.
Whenever the subject is policy, Brasil Júnior positions itself as a nonpartisan organization, but it does not mean that they are not involved with policy. For four years, Brasil Júnior led the process to implement a national law regulating the concept of junior enterprises in Brazil, which was successfully approved in April of this year.
The Junior Enterprise model is such a success that Brasil Júnior has a partnership with the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises – JADE to spread the concept in other countries. Brasil Júnior believes that the Junior Enterprise Movement is forming leaders that will undertake considerable changes in Brazil and in all over the world.
About the author
Ms. Zimmermann is the Brazilian Ambassador of the Brazilian Confederation of Junior Enterprises – Brasil Júnior in JADE – the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises, responsible for Global Public Affairs, representing the Junior Enterprise Movement towards Global Organizations, managing the statistics of our Network by the Census & Identity and developing the strategies, campaigns and actions for the Junior Enterprise World Day (JEWD).
Ana Carolina Zimmermann is a student of Industrial Engineering at the University of Brasília – Brazil. Particularly, she is experienced in human development, institutional relationships with public and educational organizations, besides her certification in Master Coaching by SLACoaching.