Creating Future Bosses
Today, there’s a need for us to educate kids in a more creative and interesting manner, as the World Wide Web gives them access to a multitude of information. Eena Houzyama visits Dwi Emas International School, the first in Malaysia dedicated to fostering
As I walk towards the school’s open administration area, I’m greeted by HerWorld Woman of the Year 2016, Anne Tham. Anne was awarded the title for her contribution towards the popular educational app, Chem Capers, in 2015. At the time, she was working on creating a new education system for a school that she hoped would lead students into the world of entrepreneurship. And now, here I am standing at that school she’d dreamt of building.
Aside from its very unique teaching techniques, the school’s Powerpreneur Programme had piqued my interest as a parent. What’s especially interesting
is that students learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship backed by ‘12 Pillars of Powerpreneurship’. The key fundamentals include solving problems with creativity and innovation, gaining insights into existing and future industries, collaborating across borders and professions, creating massive value, failing fast and failing forward, as well as turning ideas and passions into causes that serve people.
But they’re not learning these from textbooks, nor are they just getting a one-way education. Instead, this programme is headed by entrepreneurs, so students gain real-life wisdom from experienced industry players.
This year, the school introduced a four-month-long Fashionpreneur Programme – a collaboration with fashion entrepreneur M, a Los Angeles fashion designer and founder of M the Movement. M has worked with superstars such as Pharrell Williams and The Black Eyed Peas, and recently showcased his work at the Singapore Formula One event.
“We created a workshop. Every part of the programme has a different focus, so for the one on fashion, the end goal is to do a show after 15 weeks, which is kind of similar to a designer’s timeframe. By the third or fourth month, the idea is to make products and showcase them – so the proof will be in the pudding. With the show, you see not just the designs, but also how the students work together to produce it, in addition to creating tickets and flyers for sales and marketing. It’s all going to be evident in that one production.
And the reason we chose fashion is not only because of my background, but because it’s a business. It also relates to making children learn through fun – fashion is fun, sexy, exciting, and glamorous. But when you get into the crux of the industry, you’re learning sales, marketing, production, and design. There’s a void in the market now for all of those skills, particularly the creative ones, that if children learn these entrepreneurial skills, they’re going to be very successful and have the tools they need to survive. Even on YouTube, they’re creating channels but no one has content,” expresses M.
Although M is constantly on the go, attending to his various business ventures, it has not stopped him from being connected and available for these students. “I touch base with them physically once a month and check in on the workshops via Skype and FaceTime. While I’m watching these kids, I’m also keeping an eye out for interns among them. I can provide them with international experience without leaving Malaysia. If I give them a project that I’m doing for J. Lo, for example, and they’re helping with the artwork, they could put that on their resume at age 12. It’s something that’s not offered anywhere else,” he shares.
The vision of Dwi Emas is not one which is stagnant. As Anne puts it, they’re trying to open the minds of children by giving them a chance to embark on their dreams. “What we’re doing is really being on the ground with the kids by translating entrepreneurship for their generation, which is something very few people have actually done. How do you take content like that and turn it into something kids can understand? We’re shifting mindsets, getting them to come up with a business, and supporting them. M is part of a programme called Powerpreneur Global, which teaches kids what it takes to build a global business. The problem with entrepreneurship is that when you do it, it’s all about startups. But it’s not; it’s the whole journey, and one part of the journey is to take whatever you’re doing global, because people are talking about ‘think global but do local’. Glocal, it’s called,” Anne enthuses.
One thing’s for sure: visiting the school was quite an eye-opener. The students were friendly and confident when sharing about their business ventures and ideas. Perhaps more schools, especially public schools, can look into adapting some of these ideas for students to further explore their capabilities and build their own careers.
CJ Lim, Kim, M, Anne, Melinda and Eugene
Anne Tham ACE EDVenture founder and CEO
M with Dwi Emas students