Francesco Vanni d’Archirafi is the new Chairman of ‘Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise Europe’ (JA-YE). He has set ambitious goals: he wants to increase the number of young people JA-YE reaches with its business and enterprise education programmes from the present 1.7 million a year to more than 5 million.
JA-YE is a network of member organisations in 41 European countries. In large number of programmes, from primary school through to early university, JA-YE teaches enterprise, entrepreneurship, and ‘economic literacy’. The programmes focus on the importance of market-driven economies and the role of business in the economy.
Mr. d’Archirafi’s professional background is in banking; he is CEO EMEA for Citigroup Global Transaction Services.
Can you remind us briefly of the goals of JA-YE, and why you accepted to become the new chairman?
My history with JA-YE goes back for many years. When I was Country Corporate Officer for Citigroup in Spain, I was asked to set up the Spanish branch of JA-YE. Observing the programme in action, and seeing the passion from the volunteers and the enthusiastic reception by the children and teachers showed me what an amazing organization JA-YE is. I am thrilled to be here years later carrying on that tradition as Chairman. My goal is an ambitious one – to increase the number of young people benefiting from our business and enterprise education programmes from 1.7 million to over 5 million by 2010. I am confident we can meet that goal by continuing to do what JA-YE does best – encouraging entrepreneurship.
Will you hire more staff or rely mainly on volunteer trainers?
We will do both. Our priority is to balance growth with quality at every level of the organization. The basis of JA-YE is voluntary commitment, so teacher training, recruiting volunteers from the community, and fostering public-private sector cooperation to drive volunteering are our main areas of focus. I am determined to lead the Board to build on our existing recruitment channels while finding new ways to support our growth.
Should you not focus on quality and impact in the number of enterprise set-ups, rather than on the number of students trained?
JA-YE Europe has a proven track record of success through entrepreneurship. Statistics show that 30% of our students go on to start up their own businesses. Achieving a penetration rate of 7-8% across Europe by 2010, based on long-term impact assessments conducted in Member Nations, would result in a significant economic impact for Europe. We feel that our model is strong and it is the right time to grow it.
EU entrepreneurship is a key part of the Lisbon agenda, as your general assembly was reminded by Maria João Rodrigues, one of the masterminds behind the Lisbon Strategy. Still many of the National Reform Programmes supposed to sustain ‘Growth and Jobs’ do not mention entrepreneurship. How can you contribute to making it a priority for ministers – especially education ministers?
Raising awareness of the positive economic role entrepreneurism can have in the public sector is a key item on my agenda. The JA-YE Company Programme is already recognized by the European Commission Enterprise Directorate General as a ‘Best Practice in Entrepreneurship Education’ – but we want and can do more.
Who pays for this training scheme? Students? Schools? Sponsors? Governments? EU institutions? Given that you put into action several EU objectives, are you receiving enough support in return?
The generous support we receive from private and public sector donors allows our schools to pay little or nothing to participate. The JA-YE business model is to involve the private sector – business people and non-teachers – in the classroom so that students can learn how the real world works by presenting business and economic concepts in a practical and hands-on way. Continued support from the private sector is key to our success. While JA-YE receives support from corporations globally, we are always looking for more.