11/08/2010 01:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Global Entrepreneurship Week Challenge: Ignite the Spark in Teens

Growing up, many kids dream of being an astronaut, a fireman or a movie star - but how many kids dream of being an entrepreneur? Students, educators, entrepreneurs, business and non-profit leaders, government officials and others from across the globe are coming together this month to introduce entrepreneurship to youth as a potential career path. Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 15 - 22, joins millions of young people worldwide in an initiative to inspire today's youth to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity as a way to generate new ideas and better ways of doing things.

Junior Achievement (JA), a Global Entrepreneurship Week partner, has been providing programs that foster the entrepreneurial spirit and inspire young people for generations. During the Week, Junior Achievement is facilitating an innovative program which will connect students in the JA Company Program® with successful Brazilian entrepreneurs to demonstrate the power of global knowledge exchange.

In the 2010 "Teens and Entrepreneurship" Survey, conducted by JA and Sam's Club, creativity and imagination were cited as the most important factors in determining success for an entrepreneur. To inspire that creativity and imagination, JA is aligning traditional programs with activities to help students explore their potential as innovators. In JA Company Program, students create and run a real business under the mentorship of a local businessperson. This hands-on entrepreneurial experience is an excellent way to test out their business skills under the tutelage of an experienced business professional.

To raise awareness around Global Entrepreneurship Week, JA is working with FedEx to connect established Brazilian entrepreneurs, who will "export knowledge" about their businesses, to JA Company Program students through a new Facebook application. JA students will then engage in a dialogue with these entrepreneurs, via the Facebook app, to better understand how to start up and manage a business.

This innovative program will enable students to be better prepared for the global business world and provides them with a unique learning experience, demonstrating how both mentors and technology can enhance the relevancy of academic content and create a rich learning experience. Providing these types of learning experiences is crucial to developing and harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit in young adults, especially since much of this content is not taught in schools.

In fact, our "Teens and Entrepreneurship" Survey found that 84 percent of teen respondents thought the basic tenets of entrepreneurship should be taught in schools. Junior Achievement programs have inspired generations of entrepreneurs, and programs such as those being put forth during Global Entrepreneurship Week will further inspire tomorrow's entrepreneurs and business leaders.

JA programs, such as JA Company Program, have had a significant impact in building confidence and determining success for aspiring entrepreneurs. A recent Junior Achievement alumni poll of JA participants found that 74 percent of JA alumni said they were confident they could start their own business, versus only 41 percent of those respondents who did not participate in JA. Moreover, 20 percent of JA alumni reported owning their own business versus 7 percent of non-JA participants.

Global Entrepreneurship Week serves as a launching point for all adults to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship in today's youth - whether that's through mentoring, connecting the kids in your life with successful entrepreneurs or getting involved with your local JA office. See how you can share your personal experiences and expertise to help ignite the entrepreneurial spark for a young adult.

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