Every year, young people try to stand out with their mini-business. More than a high school project, it is an opportunity for them to face the business world and its challenges.
JonkJob.lu looks like a very professional platform. It starts from a simple but effective idea of putting young people who want to earn some money in contact with adults who need services: moving, car washing, babysitting, support classes, babysitting or even gardening.
However, behind this successful concept, since more than 300 students and high school students are already enrolled, hide two young high school students, Liv Pekels, 17 years old and Philippe Pividor, 18 years old, both high school students at Robert-Schuman School. They started from an observation when they saw their friends looking for this kind of occasional work that doesn’t involve them and started thanks to Jonk Entrepreneuren Luxembourg.
First lessons and first obstacles
“I was interested in economics in general and more specifically in the company,” explains Philippe who is trying to become a career entrepreneur and why not elsewhere with this high school student project that looks promising. He saw in Jonk Entrepreneur the opportunity to “make connections, meet people”. For Liv, also interested in the world of entrepreneurship, it is an opportunity “to open many doors to learn more about business and work in groups”.
As part of the mini-business festival, they and dozens of other high school students from across the country took turns showing their work to visitors at the two pop-up shops on rue Philippe-II in Luxembourg.
And the first lessons are learned in practice, with the first obstacles: “We didn’t have very serious adults who registered on the platform, says Liv. They requested care and were not present at the house at the time of the consultation. It’s not very happy experiences that surprised us a lot”, admits Liv. Young entrepreneurs were able to bounce back by deciding to pay young people who moved anyway.
So far, in four months, between 35 and 40 visits have been made by young people. Some customers have already returned, a proof of satisfaction.
An evolution throughout the year
To avoid mistakes, Liv and Philippe were able to discuss with lawyers to ensure legality at every stage. This connection with specialists, people from the professional world “not necessarily entrepreneurs, it can be an accountant or something else”, says Claudia Da Silva, coordinator of Jonk Entrepreneuren, is one of the promises of the project. “They have coaches who give them feedback on their business plan or help them find suppliers and customers. We also offer training throughout your career.”
Jonk Entrepreneuren also allows them to have a showcase, which won over Benoît Legentil, who has been making wooden lamps in his cellar for years. A passion for woodworking that led him to equip himself and learn the secrets of this art on YouTube, alone and the result is breathtaking. The Lampit project, which can be found on Instagram, offers a small range of limited-edition lamps with a geometric, somewhat retro and elegant look.
“The wood for this lamp comes from an apple tree in my garden. It is wood from my family in France and when I have to buy it, I take very good quality from an eco-responsibly managed forest. I love wood, above all I don’t want to contribute to the devastation of forests”, explains the 20-year-old from the ALT Redange lyceum, which is the only one of the two pop-up shops in Luxembourg City, loaned last week to mini-entrepreneurs, to answer visitor questions and anticipate questions.
Marketing reflexes that are acquired over the months of the adventure. “We see them evolve throughout the year. Some are very shy at first and then watch them gain confidence. This is also one of Jonk Entrepreneuren’s goals. They learn things that will serve them for a lifetime, whether in their personal or professional lives. In particular, we organize training to put ourselves in the client’s shoes, during which he works on empathy”, specifies the coordinator.
Ideas that want to be eco-responsible
Before the pop-up stores, young people were able to test the success of their products by putting them on sale at the Belle-Étoile mall. About thirty lamps between 35 and 115 euros sold like hotcakes. Recycled backpacks from the mini-company Up-Tote were also out within hours. “We’ve already exhausted almost all our stock”, explain Benedetta Gnagni (17) and Elza Hoti, from Lycée Hubert-Clément, who chose the Jonk Entrepreneuren option to find out how a business works.
With their three acolytes, they had the ambition to make an eco-responsible project, a concern that often arises in this young generation, but the path was full of pitfalls: “We had a lot of difficulty finding a supplier. We must have contacted about fifty of them,” they exclaim, still surprised at having faced so many difficulties.
“Either it was not possible, or too expensive, or we would have to order very large quantities, including clothes in poor condition and not just sweaters.” The difficulty did not stop there, it was then necessary to find a sewing workshop with affordable prices for young entrepreneurs. An obstacle course until reaching an agreement with the Naxi workshop in Esch-sur-Alzette. This guarantees the training and integration of women in situations of suffering, which adds a social dimension to the project.
On June 9, the mini-company final will take place. That still leaves a little time for young people to get into their businesses and present them in the best possible light before a jury.
450 participants from 23 secondary schools
The Mini-Companies program takes students to create and manage a business for an entire academic year while being guided by their teacher and benefiting from the guidance of an economics speaker “to get out of the school environment”, specifies Claudia Da. Silva, coordinator for Jonk Entrepreneur.
A program that is carried out internationally thanks to the Junior Achievement network and which has been managed in the Grand Duchy since 2005 by ASBL Jonk Entrepreneuren. Association created under the “National Plan for Innovation and Full Employment”. ASBL has several programs that always aim to instill the spirit and taste for entrepreneurship.
“Young people need to understand that entrepreneurship is a career possibility”, insists the coordinator in a country where the entrepreneurial spirit is not evident among the young generation. “It also contributes to your personal, creative, organizational or leadership development. They have to take the initiative, find and manage real money.”
This year, 450 students from 23 different high schools participate in the project, which resulted in the creation of 85 mini-companies. Some participate spontaneously, others out of obligation as part of the school program with greater or lesser involvement.
With each edition, some companies survive, but that’s not the main thing. The important thing is that the idea germinates in their heads and opens the way, perhaps for a future career. “And even if they realize that, for example, leadership is not for them, at least they will have learned something that can prevent them from making mistakes in orientation later on”, concludes Claudia Da Silva. In short, an experience that can only be beneficial.