Keith Miller, Founding Member of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) and Champion of the BEF’s Education & Talent Development Pillar, accepts a sponsorship cheque towards the seventh cycle of the $20 Challenge Competition from Keisha Humphrey, Senior Marketing Executive at Scotiabank (right), while Marilyn Sealy, Director of Communications and Stakeholder Management at Flow Barbados (left), a gold sponsor of the challenge, looks on.

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Schools urged to support efforts targeting youth entrepreneurship

“It’s not about academics, it’s about enterprise.”

That’s the message Keith Miller, Founding Member of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) and Champion of the BEF’s Education & Talent Development Pillar, is sending to a number of schools which may be hesitant about participating in this year’s BEF $20 Challenge.

During the launch yesterday of the seventh cycle of the competition, at Flow’s corporate offices in Warrens, St. Michael, Miller revealed that there seems to be a view that the challenge is solely for students in “top schools”, and the Foundation has met some “resistance” in getting some schools to embrace the entrepreneurial competition, aimed at creating new generations of more enterprising Barbadians.

“One of the excellent things about the $20 Challenge is that it is not dependent necessarily upon academic ability. So here we are in Barbados, with a system where we still have the Common Entrance Exam and our young people at age 11 plus are judged by what marks they have. Straight away a label is put on them. They don’t walk around with their grades stuck on their heads, but they know what schools they go to and society grades the schools,” he pointed out.ꏮ

“With the $20 Challenge, which is about entrepreneurship and enterprise, sure it helps. The more intelligent you are the better, but it has nothing to do with academic ability because there are different types of intelligence,” Miller maintained.

“One of the challenges we’ve got, we have to get the message across to the schools which are not considered the top schools, that the $20 Challenge is actually right up their street. It is exactly what they need and it would be good for their students, because ironically, we found resistance … from that kind of school. Those sometimes have been the hardest ones to get into and I personally think it’s because of a lack of self-confidence in the schools and a lack of self-esteem, but the more you dodge the bullet, you are not going to improve self-confidence,” he added.

Miller stressed that the $20 Challenge, which sees Fourth and Fifth form students being loaned $20 to start a business with added mentorship and support to aid them in becoming successful entrepreneurs – just like sports, is a great way for students themselves and the school as a whole, to upgrade its profile. As such, Miller is hopeful that all schools will get involved.

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