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A Winning Perspective - Junior Achievement US & Canada Company of the Year

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-- Written by Spectra from South Calgary, Alberta, Canada --

We joined Junior Achievement’s Company Program as high school students simply interested in learning about business. However, what we acquired was so much more than just that. Company program has provided life changing experiences, valuable opportunities, and definitely taught us much more about life and business than we anticipated.

Through company program, 19 high school students from Calgary, Alberta, Canada formed Spectra, a Junior Achievement Company. Not only did we get a hands-on approach to learning about business and entrepreneurship, we also got the opportunity to be featured on multiple local TV stations, dine with celebrity entrepreneur Brett Wilson, and participate in the North American Company of the Year Competition in Washington D.C. Though there were many successes, we also learned to overcome roadblocks together, and rise up from our mistakes to become bigger and better.

Spectra was honored to be chosen as one of the 15 finalists to participate in the North American Company of the Year Competition, where we got to meet other enthusiastic young entrepreneurs like ourselves from various parts of the USA and Canada. We were able to immerse ourselves in the creative ideas of other top companies, and listen to inspiring speeches from prominent members of the business community.

The FedEx Access seminar, a crucial portion of the competition agenda, taught us many things and greatly broadened our horizons. It was very interesting to think about access and how it truly changes our lives. It is a concept that is often overlooked, but when broken down, shows how much of a difference it makes in our world. We learned that access is crucial in creating jobs and opportunities, growing small businesses, increasing global development, and helping the environment. We also thought about how our JA companies incorporated access into ourselves. This was a very unique exercise that allowed us to truly evaluate the benefits of our business in the global economy. Unknowingly, a large component of Spectra’s mission incorporated the concepts of access. We strove to provide an eco-friendly alternative to conventional night-lights in the market. We started with an environmentally friendly mindset, by producing our nightlights mainly out of re-usable and recyclable materials. Spectra especially embodied the concept of access by promoting the sharing of ideas to benefit others less fortunate, and to increase the livelihood of those millions of miles away. Through our partnership with a charity which operates several projects in Africa, we were able to distribute 40 of our solar-powered nightlights to children without electricity in Zambia.

After our presentation and interview with the FedEx judges, Spectra was picked to receive the FedEx Access Award. It was very humbling to be the recipient of this special award, especially with so many other outstanding companies present. Most importantly, it made us realize how a small business like ours can also make a step in helping to increase global development, creating a more environmentally friendly world, increasing trade among countries, and help create a more prosperous world through access.

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Congratulations to Spectra! This achievement will no doubt prove to be a valuable lesson: you can achieve anything if you work hard, think smart, be flexible and nimble, and seize opportunities when they present themselves. I know this firsthand: I was the President of Between the Lines, the 1986 Junior Achievement Company of the Year. Junior Achievement gave me my first practical business experience and was instrumental in helping to point my professional career in the right direction. Again, congratulations to Spectra! Alex Panelli

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