JA Asia Pacific: The Future Is Now
Recently, a group of Thai high school students decided to tackle the challenge of reducing plastic waste. Knowing that plastic water bottles are among the biggest culprits, they founded a company called MUnited that designed a foldable and reusable water bottle.
By recognizing a problem they could help solve, these young innovators have themselves been recognized. In February, the MUnited teammates were named winners of the FedEx Access Award at the Junior Achievement (JA) Asia Pacific Company of the Year Competition finals in Seoul, South Korea. The Access Award aims to help participants broaden their understanding of the power of global access. It’s given to the team whose business idea has the highest potential to create jobs, grow small business, expand into other markets and improve the environment.
Launched in 2011, the Asia Pacific JA Company Program is an initiative of JA Asia Pacific, a member of JA Worldwide. JA addresses fundamental social and economic challenges by educating and empowering young people to transform their futures. The Asia Pacific JA Company Program provides high school students basic economic education and business skills that help them organize and operate actual businesses. This year, 15 student companies from 10 countries participated in the program. In addition to the student companies from the Asia Pacific region, a student business from the UK joined the event as the exhibiting team, enhancing the cross-border experience for students.
MUnited was by no means the only young business recognized at the Seoul event. Team CED from South Korea won the JA Company of the Year Award by developing an environment education game. ReKUnize, another Thai company, earned second place with an idea for a compact phone case and wallet hybrid made from recycled materials. Singapore’s Facio gained third-place honors for its handmade versatile lifestyle bag, also produced from recycled materials.
Karen Reddington, president, FedEx Express, Asia Pacific, was impressed by the teams’ sophistication and potential. “FedEx is a strong supporter of the JA Company program, which encourages students to develop a range of interdisciplinary skills and aptitudes that they would need in the real-life world of business,” she says. “Many of the students realized that they can take advantage of the unprecedented level of global connectivity that exist today and make their innovative products easily accessible to customers outside their home market.”
These kinds of products and this kind of thinking is helping students get a head start on creating a better future.
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