Teens Continue Business Adventure Long After JA Program Ends

Extraordinary effort calls for extraordinary recognition. So when the board of directors and staff of Junior Achievement of San Diego County were preparing for their annual recognition gala, they immediately thought of two young men who deserved the remarkable recognition of induction into the area's Hall of Fame.

Tanya Johnson, education manager, explained. "It was very clear to our staff and board members that these two young men were natural entrepreneurs and leaders. So for the first time ever, we inducted two bright, young gentlemen into our Hall of Fame and honored them at our annual gala in November as Young Entrepreneurs of the Year."

According to Johnson, Andre and Josh enrolled in a high school class that participated in the JA Company Program. JA Company Program provides entrepreneurship education for high school students as the students organize and operate an actual business enterprise. Andre served as president and Josh as the vice president of finance for "Place-Mate," a company that creates and markets educational placemats for preschool-aged students.The customizable placemats are laminated and come with dry-erase markers. Place-Mate competed in the U.S. Company of the Year Competition in Washington, D.C., this past summer. Andre and Josh lead the effort to market their company's products by approaching preschool coordinators at local school districts. At the conclusion of the experience, Andre and Josh didn't want to quit.

Johnson said Andre and Josh decided to buy the remaining assets of the business and continue running it.

"They formed an LLC (Limited Liability Company), found a manufacturer to produce their product more efficiently to increase market share, and they are currently having a website built."

At the recognition gala, Josh and Andre were surprised to learn of their honors. Josh's mother said the event was a night that Josh and Andre will remember forever. "The incredible honor that was bestowed upon them during the wonderful program and lovely evening was truly a milestone in their young lives," Josh's mom said. "Through JA Company Program, Josh has found his future direction, knowledge, and the confidence to pursue it."

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