The School Enterprise Challenge

About the Project

This project is one of the 2014 WISE Awards finalists.

The School Enterprise Challenge was designed to transform large numbers of young people around the world from job seekers into job creators. The program challenges young people to establish a socially responsible, but profitable business at their schools. The business becomes a platform for providing hands-on relevant education to students while generating extra income for the school. 

The School Enterprise Challenge uses basic tech solutions – the internet, VOIP, social media and video to guide school teams step-by-step. Our aim for the future is to build the resources that enable us to capitalize on mobile-enabled solutions and Artificial Intelligence to reach more young people across the world in their own language.

In 2017, the School Enterprise Challenge created over 82,000 male and female student entrepreneurs and change-makers in 110 countries. The programme gets students learning together to create marketable products, clinch sales, overcome challenges and lead a real business towards profit. In 2017, school teams set up businesses ranging from fly fishing in Belize to reusable sanitary pads in India and recycled-tire garden furniture in Nicaragua. Students gain critical livelihood and workplace skills and hands-on experience of creating new business opportunities.


Context and Issue

The School Enterprise Challenge addresses the challenge of relevant education, youth unemployment and school funding. 

Relevancy of Education: Often what children learn at school has very little relevance to the workplace context they will find themselves in after school and fails to provide skills to break the cycle of poverty.

Youth Unemployment: Mainstream education in most countries still focuses on academic achievement and does not support the development of skills, knowledge, behaviors and values which are important in finding employment or for self-employment.

Lack of Funding for Schools: Particularly in developing countries, schools often have few resources to spend on areas from basic educational resources to school meals which can make a big difference to learning outcomes and attendance.

The Solution and Impact

The School Enterprise Challenge overcomes these obstacles by:

  • Making learning relevant, allowing young people to see directly how their learning links to success in the world beyond school. Academic subjects are made relevant in this real-life context and learning outcomes are improved.
  • Enabling young people to learn the skills, knowledge, behaviors and values employers are seeking, particularly soft skills such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and behaviors and values like being pro-active, self-disciplined, and reliable.
  • Generating income; the businesses set up as part of the program generate profits which schools can use to meet their key needs.

Over 33,500 young people at more than 550 schools worldwide have participated directly in the program, and over $500,000 (US) in additional school income has been generated as a result – the equivalent in many developing countries of the running costs for ten schools.

One of the teachers at a participating school perhaps best sums up the impact of the program : “The main area we have benefited from is empowerment for the school community. The pupils have been able to see how they can contribute to their own survival. They are now not relying on charity or the goodwill of others.” – Indeco Community School, Zambia


Future Developments

In the coming years the project seeks to:

  • Establish regional hubs in at least 14 countries with a strong network and presence;
  • Have 5,000 schools participating and approximately 100,000 students directly benefiting from the program;
  • Incorporate The School Enterprise Challenge into the national curriculum in at least four countries; 
  • Ensure financial sustainability at the program level.

The project aims to achieve this by:

  • Establishing regional hubs to build up a critical mass of enterprise schools and provide in-country support to low-capacity schools with a first hub in Tanzania to be established in June 2014, and a second hub in India in 2015;
  • Strengthening relationships with partners, such as the British Council and the Royal Commonwealth Society to increase its reach; 
  • Utilizing in-country hubs to influence education policy at a national level and the UK base to influence education policy in the international development sector; 
  • Diversifying funding streams through corporate partners as well as generating income through paid consultancy services and competition add-ons, e.g. certification.
April 26, 2014 (last update 09-11-2019)