‘It’s My Business’ – AIB and Junior Achievement Celebrate 25 Years of Partnership

Aoife KellyNational

6,000 primary school students will learn how to turn an idea into a business

To celebrate their 25-year partnership, Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) and AIB will launch ‘It’s My Business’ – a new and exciting purpose-designed entrepreneurial programme for 4th class students across more than 250 schools nationwide.

Students aged 9-11 will experience the steps involved in launching a business. They will identify their own entrepreneurial characteristics; work in teams on ideas, innovation and market research to develop a business start-up, culminating with an opportunity to pitch their new business to potential “investors”.

Students will meet several successful Irish entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs Iseult Ward of FoodCloud and Michael Kelly of GIY (Grow It Yourself) in a series of inspirational video interviews.  Tribe Hospitality Group, Wildlands Activity Centre and Dough Bros. will also feature so that students will learn first-hand what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.

Launching in January 2022, ‘It’s My Business’ will engage 6,000 primary students in more than 250 classrooms nationwide over the next three years. During that time, over 1,000 contact hours of entrepreneurial education will be delivered by AIB and local business volunteers. Working together on this five-module programme, the volunteers, students and teachers will ensure the young participants acquire and practice key entrepreneurial skills such as team-working, adaptability and critical decision-making, which are identified as fundamental to future success.   

JAI utilises the experience of those already in the workforce to help children of all ages fully understand the important role that education will play in shaping their futures. AIB has supported JAI since its foundation in 1996 and has put forward staff every year to work on structured JA programmes that help students make the connection between their studies and their post-school futures. During this 25-year partnership, 29,700 students have completed Junior Achievement programmes facilitated by more than 1,260 AIB volunteers.

AIB CEO Colin Hunt paid tribute to the students, teachers and volunteers who have made a positive contribution to their communities through the relationship with JAI, saying: “We commend the AIB volunteers who have taught Junior Achievement programmes in 355 schools around the country over the last 25 years. I would also like to applaud the students and teachers for their dedication to entrepreneurship. These programmes seek to prepare students to make the best of their own talents, be responsible, enterprising individuals who have the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to prepare them to achieve the goals they set for themselves. Our colleagues have enabled more than 29,000 students to engage in early-stage entrepreneurship education, work readiness and financial literacy. The core life skills which they develop can carry forward into adulthood and on behalf of the AIB Group, I would like to thank each and every one of them for their willingness to help our young people to own their economic futures.”

Partnering with JAI is also aligned with AIB’s wider sustainability strategy to play its part in building a society that is socially and economically inclusive through investing and raising awareness in access, education and innovation for our customers, colleagues and our communities.

CEO of Junior Achievement Ireland, Helen Raftery, said: “Educators refer to school communities (not just schools) because the involvement of families and the wider community is inherent to the achievement of positive educational outcomes for all children. Students who have adult involvement in their schooling generally have better grades, better attendance, and higher graduation rates. Getting the opportunity to work with positive role models from the world of work makes a significant impact on young people. Our 20+ years of industry-education collaboration with organisations like AIB has had a direct positive impact on the lives of nearly 1,000,000 young people in Ireland and we are grateful to all our partners in business and education for their willingness to work with us to ensure students can enjoy the benefits of being involved in JA educational programmes.”

Principal of Harold’s Cross NS, Ms. Bernadette Kehoe whose students have worked with AIB volunteers for years, said: “We host JA programmes in our school because as educators we understand the profound impact that volunteers’ involvement in co-curricular activities can have. Students need to interact with a diverse range of positive adult role models so that they can see a future for themselves in the world of work. To reach their full potential we must encourage our children to develop their independence, motivation and perseverance and I see those learning outcomes at the heart of It’s My Business. Experiential learning, or learning by doing, is a very impactful form of learning so interacting with real business people while getting the chance to build their own enterprises will be a great learning opportunity for all involved. I look forward to seeing our students developing their entrepreneurial skills and enjoying this programme.”

Junior Achievement programmes delivered by business volunteers support the Department of Education’s action plan, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS).