Surrey Students Learn How to Fail – Then How to Succeed

As Frank Hurt Elementary School students in Surrey completed the final preparations for their success pitches, judges from the business community arrived in the classroom.

Jason Southwell’s Grade 9/10 class has been participating in this year’s Project Enterprise, an experiential learning program where students create their own social ventures. The program is presented by the Surrey Board of Trade and operated by PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs.

From pitch to pitch, students illustrate how they used a triple bottom line approach to create their own business models that had a focus on people, planet and profit. One team decided that a key driver for them was “to trust and respect the views of customers” and “to use easily sourced and sustainable materials.” All teams chose to donate 30% or more of their profits to causes that resonated with their members.

Many of the presentations centered on what the students had learned and how they could build on their experience. In fact, a key message was the importance of treating failures as learning opportunities. One group described a “fail” as the “first attempt in learning” and went on to explain how they used a mistake to shift gears and make changes to their sales approach. They felt their enterprise was far more successful as a result.

Southwell reported that the program brought life to the material that he was covering in the classroom. “Having the opportunity to apply concepts in a real-world context was very beneficial for our class. The students got to try things out and experiment with new ideas. After launching their social enterprises, we were able to have meaningful discussions about what worked and what didn’t.”

The program was being offered to Surrey schools through a partnership with the Surrey Board of Trade. “One of the greatest benefits of this initiative is the opportunity for students to connect with and be supported by our business members,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

“Students appreciate getting advice on topics ranging from marketing a product and increasing profitability, to speaking with confidence and using eye contact to engage an audience.”

This year’s program materials for over 350 students in 15 Surrey classrooms were covered by funding from Coast Capital Savings.