Berenice, a confident, creative and determined young woman in Mexico explained how she built her skills

From a shy and reserved young woman to a confident, creative and determined entrepreneur

OECD research tells us that critical thinking, creativity, communication, perseverance, collaboration, and a positive attitude to learning, are among the top skills that young people need to thrive in 2030 (OECD Future of Education and Skills, 2030).

Our School Enterprise Challenge helps young people to develop these skills, as Berenice (second left) explained in conversation with Alondra Maradriaga, our Programme Manager.

" Now I feel confident that I have the skills to thrive in 2030."

Berenice's skills have soared, alongside her confidence

In Ciudad Valles, Mexico where Berenice goes to school, the average monthly wage is only US$300 – 30% of GNI/capita. Most young people lack the confidence to explore new opportunities, and tend to seek stable employment along conventional paths even if the wages are low. Berenice explained that she felt much the same before joining the School Enterprise Challenge.

When the teachers at Conalep Valles 044 introduced Berenice and her classmates to the programme, they highlighted its potential for providing a real-world business experience, which excited them all. Teachers were determined to help their students make a success of their first entrepreneurial venture in every way they could, integrating the School Enterprise Challenge programme into their classes and offering support beyond regular school hours.

For their part, the students were keen to establish a socially and environmentally responsible business, finally deciding to launch a business selling brooms crafted from recycled plastic bottles. Initially this group of young women were all shy and reserved but once they had decided on their business, they started working well together as a team. Their first task was to collect plastic bottles. Berenice initially felt embarrassed when approaching other students to ask for their support to collect plastic bottles and it didn’t help that some students initially dismissed their efforts as just a game.

Determined to suceed, Berenice began visiting other schools to ask more students for their support, building her confidence and communication skills. Soon the team had collected sufficient plastic bottles to start production.

At that point, the team came up against new challenges - in creating a simple machine to convert plastic bottles into fibres for the brooms – as well as doubts around their abilities as young women to operate well as a production team. They persevered - diligently studying various video tutorials to find out how to build a simple machine. With help from their teacher, they eventually succeeded in creating the machine and started producing their brooms.

Over six months, the team managed to make and sell enough brooms to generate a profit of US$373. A portion of this was shared among team members who needed financial help to continue their studies, while the remainder was reinvested in the business. With existing orders to fulfil, the team plans to continue manufacturing their signature brooms and introduce new colours to expand their product line. AND the team’s success has already inspired other students at their school, motivating two new school business start-ups.

Alongside their core business, the team also donated the bottle caps they had collected to a local foundation supporting children with cancer. For every 1,000 caps the foundation covers the cost of one chemotherapy session. Their contributions have already facilitated three chemotherapy treatments, adding extra purpose to their efforts.

Berenice has a newfound motivation and confidence in her abilities. With one more year before she completes high school, Berenice is already preparing to launch her own business when she graduates.

"Before joining the School Enterprise Challenge, I wouldn't have even thought of becoming an entrepreneur but now I feel confident that I have the skills to be a successful entrepreneur."