Technology is at the core of doing business today and young children are getting the chance to experience this in a unique way through BizTown. Operated by Junior Achievement Jamaica (JAJ), BizTown provides a simulated business and financial experience for children, introducing them to commercial concepts at an early age.
As the name suggests, BizTown is a simulated business district occupied by some of Jamaica’s most well-known brands, including leading communications and entertainment provider Flow. There is also a Government office with a sitting Mayor as well as a security company and media house. The primary objective of BizTown is to create an experience that reflects real world scenarios so the students can learn about the nature of doing business and how adults are required to function in society.
The children are also introduced to emerging technology, such as virtual reality, and basic computing skills such as data entry. BizTown will also be powered by Flow’s fibre fast technology, providing the business district with greater capacity to fulfil its digital needs.
Callia Smith-Harriott, Interim Executive Director of the JAJ, pointed out that prior to the students arriving at Biz Town, they must complete a 4-6 week theory curriculum.
“It’s an integrated approach to learning,” Smith-Harriott stated. “In the curriculum, they are learning about different aspects of business such as taxes, goods and service, opening accounts, and then they come to BizTown to go through the simulation of being a citizen in their own town and practice what they’ve learnt. Each student also gets the perspective as a producer and as a consumer.”
BizTown represents one of several programmes aimed at youth empowerment that benefits from a partnership with the Flow Foundation. Kayon Mitchell, Executive Director of the Flow Foundation and Director of Communications at Flow, said, “Telecommunications technology is a necessary enabler of business especially in today’s digital economy and so, we see this as an excellent opportunity to help prepare our children with certain business and entrepreneurial skills. The practical experience that students gain from participating in the BizTown programme is immeasurable. The exposure to the many different career choices will help to broaden their young minds and bring forth a new generation of entrepreneurs who will be the future leaders of this nation.”
Smith-Harriott added that the JAJ is in discussion with the Ministry of Education and Youth to introduce the programme to more schools and that business literacy at a young age can develop a stronger society.
“We are imparting knowledge that will grow with them and as they get to high school and then college, these are lessons they will continue to live by and grow with. Thanks to sponsors like Flow, we are able to offer this programme free of cost to the students.”
JAJ is a member nation of Junior Achievement Worldwide, the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programmes. Jamaica is the first member nation outside of the USA to create the BizTown model.
Schools can register for BizTown by visiting www.jajamaica.org. BizTown is located at the JAJ offices at 37 Arnold Road in St Andrew.