KANSAI Close-up

[Columns]Challenge by Entre Preneur Co., Ltd.

   Although it's been a long time since the harmful effects of deviation value education was pointed out, I was blessed with an opportunity to be involved in an educational practice that was able to sweep off such apprehension. This is the “Student Company Program” (SCP), which was commenced at Rakuyo Technical High School under the authorization of “Junior Achievement Japan,” an organization that supports private economic education with a global network.

   SCP is an educational program that established a company with capital of 10,000 yen by issuing 100 shares for 100 yen per share, in which students themselves engage in social activities, such as production and sales, sharing all roles including President. On September 14, the high school set up “Entre Preneur,” which was named after the term “entrepreneur” in the hope that each employee would be able to demonstrate his or her own entrepreneurial spirit.

   The company has 25 employees comprising first- and second-year students. The students, who led this program, belong to a course aiming for university, called "Hyper Stage." The outside directors, who also play the role of advisors, are five working members of society who are active on the front lines of large enterprises and universities. Their main products are a bamboo LED lamp with a paper shade called “andon.” The sub product is bamboo charcoal. Because bamboo culture has been rooted in Kyoto since the Heian period and there are many abandoned bamboo thickets all over Japan, this high school from Kyoto decided to become an advanced model of resource usage by commercializing high-tech bamboo products (President: Mikihiro Uenishi, a second-year student from the Advanced Course).

   The period of activity is six months. Students went into the mountains twice by the end of October, and tried their hand at cutting down bamboo. Bamboo cannot be made into products until it is heated so that its oils can be wiped away, and is then dried under the sun for more than two weeks. Such preparations take a lot of time and labor. In addition, student employees continued to struggle every day between their regular curriculum, offering invitations to subscribe for shares, engaging in the design and technological development of products, thinking about where and how to sell the products, and charcoal making. Since they frequently have to work on their days off, some employees resigned since they were unable to bear the hard work.

   In SCP activities, more than a few students who don’t usually stand out suddenly began to shine. Those cases include the assistant to the public affairs manager, who all of a sudden became a leader in cutting down bamboo; a production member, who usually doesn’t talk much but has more extensive knowledge than anyone else in terms of technical topics; and the sales manager, who demonstrated his hidden talent in design. Even the president, whose weakest point was said to be conversation, has now become one of the best critics in the company.

   These students’ attitude toward helping each other and being aware of their own roles cannot be observed during the regular classes at school. Above all, their facial expressions have begun showing their confidence. The current school education places the best value on test scores. The term “education” derives from the verb “educe (to draw out latent talent).” SCP teaches us what the essential mission of education is, and how important individual roles are. I look forward to following the daring challenge of Rakuyo Entre Preneur, which aims to contribute its profits to areas of Tohoku affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, with a sales target of 500,000 yen.

(Journalist Tokuo Sato)

Employees earnestly discussing business details in an internal meeting
Company executives making presentations at the General Meeting of the Alumni Association
Bamboo thickets provide employees with opportunities for the best learning experience.