A Glimpse of the Future

Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship Business Camp (NFTE BizCamp) offers a glimpse of the leaders and entrepreneurs our youths can become with a resilient and risk-taking mindset.

From 25 May to 5 June, Halogen Foundation Singapore conducted a nine-day Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) BizCamp for 26 Normal Technical students from Jurongville Secondary School. It is the 3rd camp running since partnering US-based NFTE in 2014.

NFTE BizCamp is an intensive two-week non-residential camp designed to teach students business skills and develop entrepreneurial qualities through a series of workshops, business visits and experiential-based activities. It is a fully funded programme that seeks to boost self-confidence and provide empowerment for the underprivileged students using entrepreneurship education. Globally, 500,000 students have been impacted under the NFTE programme.

In the first week of the camp, students were introduced to the idea of entrepreneurship and different business concepts such business opportunity recognition, market research, costs and marketing which are essential in starting a business. With a series of carefully designed lectures and interactive activities aimed at promoting experiential learning and a team of dedicated facilitators to guide and support the students, they were able to quickly understand business concepts and terminologies and put them into practice.

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One such example of such an activity was the “Community Walk About”. After learning to identify possible sources of business opportunities, students head down Orchard Road to seek potential business opportunities. During the walkabout, they were challenged to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset with questions like “Are there sufficient facilities present for shoppers who are tired? Is there a way to manage long queues at the Taxi stand?“ These are among the many real world questions facilitators posed to spark their creativity. As with any task, the first attempt is always the hardest. But eventually, even the shyest of students managed to step out of his or her comfort zone, boosting their confidence in the process. Many of the students were able to rise up to challenges such being able to successfully exchange a paper clip with a stranger for anything else of a higher value.

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Another highlight of NFTE BizCamp was the business visit to Raffles Tailor, an enterprise that provides customised suits for businessmen working in Marina Bay. Students were filled with awe and excitement upon their first step into the posh shop. Mr Mac Ho, the managing director of Raffles Tailor and his team warmly received the students into their business. After starting off with a brief introduction on the business, Mac shared his personal story on his personal struggles, challenges of running his business and how he managed to overcome them. The stories he shared were highly relatable to the students as they provided valuable insights on what it means to be an entrepreneur and ways to overcome challenges when running a business. The students left the shop inspired by Mac’s grit and dedication to his craft.

As part of their BizCamp journey, the students were required to come up with a business plan and formal presentation of the plan using all the knowledge and skills that were learnt during the camp. Although the process was rigorous and stressful at times, the students had a lot of support, encouragement and assistance from the BizCamp facilitators every step of the way. We had Google volunteers who also came down to BizCamp to offer valuable presentation tips that gave student an extra edge for their presentations.

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On the final day of the camp, the students dressed in smart, formal wear geared up for their final presentation of their business plans to a panel comprising of top executives and entrepreneurs from the corporate and non-profit areas. The judges – Dato’ Seri Dr Derek Goh (BBM Executive Chairman & Group CEO, Serial System Ltd) , Ms Amanda Lin (Corporate Affairs Region Manager, Coca-Cola Singapore and Malaysia) and Ms Vivien Lai (Director, New & Emerging Initiatives, Advocacy & Membership, National Council of Social Services) were presented with many different, interesting business ideas ranging from F&B services, customised products to new product innovations. Some of these ideas were so innovative that the judges offered to support the business plans if the students were interested in developing their ideas further. Zikry Amani B Mohammad Zaini emerged as Best Overall Speaker with his idea for “Foodball” – a business concept that integrates football and food in the same space. Other winners included Suritar Bte Josle and Lim Zhen Jie, Terry who were awarded Best Presenter and Most Improved Speaker respectively.

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Throughout BizCamp, the students have showed tremendous improvement in confidence levels and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills. It is our hope that our students will carry an entrepreneurial mindset of taking risks and pushing forward in spite of obstacles as they embark on their future endeavours. In these nine days, it is no doubt that we have seen a glimpse of who the students can grow to become and we are excited about what they can achieve in the future!

— Article by Cheryl Tan