It’s not just policemen that are getting younger. Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg founding Facebook as a 20-year-old undergraduate or Savannah Britt launching Girlpez to become the world’s youngest magazine publisher at the tender age of 15, it seems it’s never too early to be an entrepreneur.
ORT Russia is tapping into the zeitgeist with the launch of a one-year pilot project teaching Hewlett Packard’s Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE) to students at ORT secondary schools in the Former Soviet Union and Bulgaria.
“It’s a double first “ﾓ the first time for these schools to offer entrepreneurship training for their students and the first experience with the Russian language version of the HP LIFE curriculum, which was only translated from English last month,” said ORT Russia National Director Dr Sergey Gorinskiy.
In preparation for the pilot project, 15 teachers from ORT schools in Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine have just completed a five-day training seminar at the Odessa ORT school organized by the Micro-Enterprise Acceleration Institute from Geneva (MEA-I) and World ORT and supported by HP.
MEA-I Master Trainer Ana Barfield said she was very happy with the seminar.
“As usual, the collaboration between MEA-I, World ORT and HP has resulted in a well organized event,”? Ms Barfield said.
Participant Oksana Borovik, a teacher at the Moscow ORT Technology College, said she liked the curriculum’s structured approach.
“I would like to conduct a complete course for young entrepreneurs using this course,” Ms Borovik said. “And I’m sure I’ll be able to use the concept and approach to present class material on other subjects, too.”
Teresa Segaliene, a teacher at the ORT Shalom Aleichem Jewish School in Vilnius, said: “This has been very timely. The school and the community need this tool to help students find a way to make a living.”
Developed by MEA-I, Geneva in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard Corporation, HP LIFE is a global program that trains students, potential entrepreneurs and small business owners to harness the power of IT to establish and grow their businesses.
ORT Russia, in partnership with Project Kesher, has already been training professionals to use HP LIFE to help women master technological tools in the administration and marketing of small businesses. The two organizations have so far enabled more than 15,000 women to improve their economic situation at 17 ORT-KesherNet training centres in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia.
Dr Gorinskiy said that extending HP LIFE into schools would give teenagers more options as they entered the adult world.
“It’s very important to introduce children to what business is about from as early an age as possible,” he said. “University is not for everyone and early exposure to entrepreneurship can open their minds to the possibilities of starting their own business rather than working for someone else. And there are many examples of successful businesspeople who didn’t finish college “ﾓ Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, for example. But this kind of training can also give young people skills which they can use to earn money while at university because continuing education is not cheap anymore.”
Dr Gorinskiy’s comments are a continuation of what he said during last year’s World ORT Hattter Technology Seminar, which explored entrepreneurship under the banner of Learning the Business of Technology.
Then, he noted how Russian schools taught how to invent but not how to innovate and that existing models of business education were not connected with developments in technology.
“By combining modern school technology with IT-based entrepreneurship training we can encourage students to pursue careers in innovative business,” he said.
HP LIFE is ideal because it presents the relevant technologies from a practical perspective: students learn to use them by creatively overcoming real life problems and so understand how to develop their businesses effectively.
As budding media mogul Savannah Britt says, “becoming an entrepreneur is a learning experience”?.