We should view things as opportunities
In March 2022, when I started as the new CEO of Junior Achievement Finland, we completed the clarification of our strategy together with our personnel. Our updated vision and mission sum up our goal to offer all children and young people the opportunity to try out entrepreneurial, work life, and financial skills, says the CEO of Junior Achievement Finland Sami Suomela.
Key figures from 2021–2022
Junior Achievement Finland at 20
The year 2022 marked our 20th anniversary. Junior Achievement Finland has had a colorful journey developing the work life skills of children and young people. Today, we are one of the best-known operators in the field of entrepreneurial education in Finland.
Job Shadow brought young people and work life influencers together for the 7th time
“It’s great when a pre-boomer like me gets to talk to real young people,” says Minister of Science and Culture, Antti Kurvinen, talking about the Job Shadow Day.
On the Job Shadow Day we organized in October 2021, leaders and influencers from different industries were partnered with a young future achiever for one working day. The young people hailed from different parts of Finland, and each one of them has completed our JA Company Program at their school or educational establishment. Minister Antti Kurvinen spent the day with Luka Väisänen, 16, from Jyväskylä, the pair kick-starting the event as guests on MTV’s Uutisaamu program.
The networking event closing the Job Shadow Day was held on the premises of our partner, the corporate bank SEB, in Helsinki.
The young people’s experience of the event already started the night before with the Ready for Work cooperation event organized by ManpowerGroup. The participants received tips regarding future job-seeking and personal branding.
Alumni work: our from-young-people-to-young-people operations increased despite the challenging global situation
Our alumni and ambassador activities provide young people with the opportunity to continue to increase the entrepreneurial, work life, and financial skills they have acquired through our entrepreneurship programs in practice. The young people will learn performance, storytelling, and sales skills, or even how to make a podcast, each according to their own interests and activity. At the same time, our alumni will attract young people and students to our programs through their examples and stories.
Despite the challenging global situation, our ambassadors made 170 speeches and reached 10,000 young people and teachers at different schools and events in the 2021–2022 academic year. Compared to the previous season, our coverage increased by over 50%.
In November 2021, the alumni association maintained by young people, JA Alumni Finland ry, celebrated its 15th anniversary on the premises of the pension insurance company Elo in Espoo. As a gift from Junior Achievement Finland, three of our alumni traveled to the alumni conference held in Strasbourg, France, in July 2022. The alumni were also a strong presence at the Uskalla Yrittää final, and they organized a successful regional event in Oulu.
To cap an eventful academic year, the alumni and ambassador activities were made one of the focus areas of our new strategy. Not surprisingly, in the 2022–2023 period, we received a record number of ambassador applications and recruited twice the number of ambassadors for the new period.
International GOALS Project completed – “After all the virtual hassles, that was the most rewarding feedback – and one that I could not even have dreamt of!”
Young people’s career path and the vitality of provinces promoted by the increase of regional operations
In the academic year 2021–2022, Junior Achievement Finland extended its regional network with the aim of covering all of the Finnish provinces in the years to come. Currently, the association has 16 regional operators around Finland.
With the active work of its regional operators, Junior Achievement Finland wants to ensure that children and young people have an equal chance to learn the necessary skills in the future everywhere in Finland. Up to 63% of municipalities are already using the learning programs provided by JA.
In the spring, the review of the regional network as a whole commenced from the viewpoint of the current regional cooperation, the size of the regions, the number of students, and the area’s future prospects. It is important to understand regional demographic trends but, on the other hand, it is also vital to view the importance of the region as a career path for young people as a whole and to promote the vitality of the region.
Through our regional operations and entrepreneurial education, we want to introduce young people to business life in their region and the opportunities it provides, and we support the commitment and employment of young people in their own region.
We improved entrepreneurial education at Swedish-speaking schools
Three Swedish-speaking foundations – Tre Smeder, Esbo-Grankulla Aktia, and Helsinge – started to support our operations to promote entrepreneurial education. Boosted by the 3-year subsidy, Junior Achievement Finland is able to invest in the promotion of entrepreneurial skills, work life skills, and financial skills at Swedish-speaking schools in Greater Helsinki. The granted subsidy also made it possible for us to hire a bilingual regional manager fluent in both of the domestic languages. For the foundations, strengthening young people’s work life capabilities is a real asset.
Four professionals awarded the entrepreneurial educator of the year award
Each year, we reward a number of teaching professionals for their valuable contributions to the teaching of entrepreneurial, work life, and financial skills at schools and educational establishments. Based on the recommendations received, Anne Leikari from Rauma, Päivi Marttila-Lampinen from Seinäjoki, Tanja Ingelin from Kirkkonummi, and Markus Koskinen from Asikkala were selected as the entrepreneurial educators of the year of 2022.
These honored persons are ambassadors of entrepreneurial education, stimulating and motivating enablers, active networkers, and developers of the culture of learning at their respective educational establishments.
We would like to express our warm congratulations to the winners!
The year started with great news – our umbrella organization JA Worldwide has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
“Peace will only be possible once young people in all countries and regions have financial influence. We are honored by this nomination as well as the chance to continue our work to provide all young people with the necessary skills and determination to build prosperous communities,” says Asheesh Advani, President & CEO of JA Worldwide.
The nomination, which made the headlines in the spring, is also a fantastic recognition of our daily efforts at Junior Achievement Finland to promote the future skills of children and young people.
JA Worldwide makes the Top 10 of the world’s non-governmental organizations again – this time coming 6th
For the fourth year running, JA Worldwide has made the Top 10 of the world’s most influential NGOs on The Dot Good list. This year, we came 6th. Last year, our ranking was 7th.
JA Finland is part of the Junior Achievement (JA), which is the world’s largest organisation providing entrepreneurial and consumer education for children and young people, operating in 115 countries.
Board activities and a greeting from the Chair of the Board
In the 2021–2022 academic year, our Board of Directors comprised nine experienced work life and business influencers. The board welcomed two new members: Technology Industries of Finland’s Leena Pöntynen and Sari Laitinen from the Federation of Finnish Enterprises. View all of the board members here.
Chair of the Board: “With the world in turmoil, JA’s activities are more important than ever”
When the 2021–2022 academic year kicked off, we were living in the hope that things were getting back to normal. But the year had many surprised in store: new waves of COVID-19, departures from the normal school and work life and, just before the spring, the war in Ukraine that shook the whole world. We have all learned new ways of doing things and worked on our adaptability skills.
I would like to thank the wonderful staff of Junior Achievement Finland (JA) for keeping up the good vibes as well as their creativity and enthusiasm for the work throughout this difficult period. I would also like to express my thanks to JA’s long-time CEO Virpi Utriainen, who moved on to a fresh challenge after many years at JA. Thank you, Virpi, for your enormous contribution to raising JA from a toddler to a 20-year-old!
JA’s leadership team grew stronger during the winter and spring, with Riikka Lehtinen appointed Chief of Regional Network and Sami Suomela appointed CEO. Later in the spring, JA clarified its strategy and reached a record number of young people. It has also been a pleasure to work with such a committed Board of Directors with a wide range of skills and know-how – a big thank you to my colleagues on the board for your rewarding teamwork!
New types of challenges are now very much part of our daily life. The global situation is both unstable and unpredictable; Finland is battling increasing levels of debt and labor shortage; and many families are forced to carefully consider their finances. The only way out of this vicious cycle is through positive development; Finland and the world at large need future achievers with the ability and drive to find employment, offer employment, create growth, and have a positive influence on social development.
Here at Junior Achievement Finland, we believe that this is possible when we provide all children and young people with the opportunity to try out and learn entrepreneurial and financial skills at school and when all the schools and teachers in Finland have the right tools and support for this task. A strong demonstration of this was the nomination of Junior Achievement Finland’s international umbrella organization Junior Achievement Worldwide for the Nobel Peace Prize. With more of us contributing to society and well-being, the world will be a more peaceful place.
The same ideal is shared by many other companies and organizations, and as much is evident in the strong support that our organization has received from its wide community of partners, members, and funders. A warm thank you to all of you for your funding, action, and genuine interest!
In the autumn of 2022, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of JA as an association. Even though Junior Achievement Finland is reaching adulthood, I hope that its youthfulness, energy, and can-do attitude will remain the same. The solid, feet-on-the-ground cooperation with schools, teachers, young people, our alumni, and the ambassadors visiting schools is important to us, and it challenges us to remain relevant and interesting, also in the future.
Diverse cooperation with partners
Our partners enable the important work to promote the entrepreneurial, work life, and financial skills of children and young people in Finland. Our diverse cooperation covers a lot of bases during the academic year. Among other things, our partners take part in the Job Shadow Day, where a young person gets an introduction to a manager’s workday, the operations of the workplace, and various professions.
Our partners also play an important role in promoting the development of our learning programs. For example, Finance Finland and FCG were involved in the updating of our financial programs during our last period of operation.
Our partners participate in our events, taking the roles of referees, mentors, and speakers who exchange ideas. We engaged in podcast collaboration, and young people got the opportunity to speak at our partners’ events. The academic year culminated in the extensive Uskalla Yrittää series of events, in which our partners were actively involved.
Media literacy training
Together with our long-time partner, the media company Bloomberg, we implemented an event where young people got the chance to consider issues such as critical thinking, media literacy and, first and foremost, spotting fake news. Bloomberg is the leading global business and financial information news agency in the world. With the guidance of Bloomberg’s news journalists, students of lower secondary schools and upper secondary educational institutions attempted to separate reliable information from disinformation, and the event looked at concrete examples of what disinformation can be like at its heinous worst.
Our cooperation with Innovestor began
The Finnish capital investment company Innovestor became our partner in the spring.
“The most important thing about our cooperation with Junior Achievement Finland is encouraging young people in a positive manner. Adopting an entrepreneurial attitude, solving challenges, and thinking about ways of making ideas work in a commercial sense alone can take you far in life,” says Wilhelm Lindholm, CEO of Innovestor.
We actively developed communications and marketing in 2021–2022
At the start of the academic year, we set up a new marketing communications and alumni work team, which rolled up its sleeves and specified clear areas of development and development targets for the period. To support the marketing communications, we drew up a content marketing strategy and designed a festival-like concept for the Uskalla Yrittää event series. Another goal was to strengthen our alumni and ambassadorial work as well as to tell the stories of young people.
In the fall, we launched a brand redesign starting with customer interviews and an analysis of the current state of affairs. In the spring, we set markers for the implementation of the new brand and began to provide our website with a facelift.
The investments in systematic content work were also visible in an increase in the number of followers in all channels as well as numerous media articles and interviews. The reach of our alumni work grew by 50%, and we also managed to double the number of applicants interested in getting involved in our ambassadorial activities. We started to send regular newsletters to teachers and schools, implemented several events, and increased awareness about our learning programs through multi-channel marketing. We continue our systematic work by developing analytics, search engine optimization, and learning program marketing.
Most new social media followers on LinkedIn
Mentions on digital and printed media
Views on YouTube
The Uskalla Yrittää podcast attracted several amazing guests and an incredible number of listeners
324,803 listening minutes, over 8,200 unique listening sessions, and nearly 5,000 views…
The episodes of the Uskalla Yrittää podcast attracted a fantastic number of listeners when over 60 influencers of different fields stepped inside the studio!
Hosted by the JA alumni Aatu Veikkola and Otto Rantanen, the podcast’s most popular episodes in the last academic year featured Jaajo Linnonmaa, Susanna Kallama, and Jari Sarasvuo as guests.
Discussions on entrepreneurship also in Swedish in the Ung & Företagsam podcast
As part of our activities as a bilingual organization, in the spring of 2022, Junior Achievement Finland started a podcast in Swedish for young people interested in entrepreneurship and work skills. This was the start of the Ung & Företagsam podcast, hosted by Sara Åstrand and Janika Korpela, both of them JA alumni.
During the first season of the show, the guests included financial expert Martin Paasi of the Rahapodi podcast fame, pole vaulter and social media influencer Erica Hjerpe, board professional Christina Dahlblom, and entrepreneur Anton Salmi.
The Uskalla Yrittää events saw some of the best young entrepreneurs in Finland
The annual Uskalla Yrittää competition and the series of entrepreneurial competitions landed at nine different localities, encouraging young entrepreneurs to do their best.
Originally, the regional events were supposed to take place physically in the provinces, but, as a result of the pandemic, the festival tour went virtual. The fair events were held on the virtual platform of our partner Howspace.
The event final took place on the premises of Mall of Tripla in Helsinki. In addition to young people, the event was visited by the Minister of Economic Affairs as well as several famous entrepreneurs. In July 2022, the winning teams (Troa NY from Helsinki and Gente UF from Jakobstad) represented Finland at Gen-E, the largest European competition for young entrepreneurs, held in Tallinn.
Participants at the Uskalla Yrittää events
Competing JA companies
Views of Uskalla Yrittää-themed posts on social media
Special theme weeks to stimulate young people
Get the autumn started by celebrating Yrittäjän päivä (Entrepreneur Day)!
On the 5th of November, 2021, we celebrated Yrittäjän päivä, highlighting the theme of entrepreneurship for the whole week.
For example, we visited Kristiinankaupunki to find out how you can practice an entrepreneurial attitude and ideas already during preschool education. In Tampere, our young alumni organized an idea workshop for year 4–6 students who got to practice entrepreneurial skills, such as creativity and cooperation skills. In Kymenlaakso, we organized innovation camps for upper secondary students in cooperation with local businesses and discovered the opportunities of social media marketing with a large bunch of people.
Promoting the financial skills of young people during the Global Money Week
Aimed at middle school and upper secondary students, the Global Money Week brought young people together on March 21–25, 2022.
Each day of the theme week featured a different theme to engage young people around financial subjects. On the Junior Achievement Finland day, we talked a lot about entrepreneurship as a career choice. The studio broadcast hosted by the JA alumni Aatu Veikkola and Otto Rantanen featured the young entrepreneurs Sonja Eid and Rami Ibrahim who talked openly about breaking taboos, money, and success.
In addition to Junior Achievement Finland, the Global Money Week was organized by Finance Finland, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, the Martha organization, the Finnish Foundation for Share Promotion, Takuusäätiö, Economy and youth TAT, the Finnish National Agency for Education, and the Bank of Finland.