Bringing innovation and social entrepreneurship together
This past October I had the opportunity to volunteer for an Innovation Camp organised by JUNIOR Germany and Barclaycard in Hamburg. The camp was part of a project that Barclays and JA Europe are running in 6 European countries. It aims to impact 15,000 students from disadvantaged areas by teaching them skills they will need to be successful in their future careers.
Getting to work with the Innovation Camp’s 54 students and support them in building their social businesses was an incredible experience. Together with 21 other Barclaycard volunteers we led workshops on marketing, finance, teamwork, project management and leadership. I helped the students to understand what it takes to run a profitable business and supported them to build their marketing skills. Following the workshops, the students received their challenge and began to work on their business ideas. Per the challenge, their plan needed to contribute to their community and work to solve a social issue (e.g. fair and socially responsible production, product for people with special needs/ disabilities, product that helps to stop the pollution of the environment).
What impressed me most about this activity was how fast the students transferred the theoretical input we gave them into creative practical ideas. It was a very humbling experience for us to have this opportunity for open dialogue and to teach the students the knowledge to turn their ideas into viable product innovations. Moreover, the students gained insights into our everyday life at work. I think these type of projects are very valuable, both for the students and us. The experience definitely gave me a fresh perspective and improved my leadership skills.
To my colleagues I would say VOLUNTEER, because it’s an enriching experience for everyone involved.
To the students out there I would say PARTICIPATE in JA programmes because they are a great opportunity to discover how to run a business and learn essential skills.
Written by Denise Stammberger, a Barclaycard business volunteer from Germany.