ELE Highlights

High School English Learners: New Entrepreneurs

by Christina Sobran
May 7, 2021

During a year when many extracurricular activities had to be curtailed, a group of English learner high school entrepreneurs teamed up for a new venture. In fact, they worked together after school to launch a start-up - while helping make the earth a bit greener.Whalers

undOrganics was the brainchild of eight English Learner New Bedford High School students, whose languages include Spanish, K’iche’, and English. The students met online after school for 13 weeks under the guidance of Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts. The hands-on program is designed for students to learn all the skills they need to become entrepreneurs while, at the same time, creating a real business.

“It’s about creating your own company together with a team,” explained Mariana, a senior at NBHS, the supply chain director for MundOrganics. “We had to think of a product that solves a problem. In this case, our product helps nature since we sell reusable bamboo bottles.”

The first step was brainstorming - the team had a week to choose both the problem they wanted to solve and a potential product they could create during the amount of time available. Then, they chose their jobs. NBHS ninth grader Aida, who handled human resources, explained, “I learned that it is always important to work in a group, and always to take into account the opinions of others.”

MundOrganics1Students quickly learned that their success at building a business together would depend on cooperation and building consensus. Diana, also an NBHS ninth grader and the team’s finance director, explained, “I learned how to work together; it was a little difficult because you can’t just do whatever you want. You have to ask everyone what they think about it.”

Team members agreed that they wanted to create something that would help fight pollution, according to CEO Adelis, an NBHS junior, “Many people use plastic things and throw them on the street, and some people go to the beach and throw plastic into the sea, and this can harm and even kill the sea animals. With this bottle you can keep using it constantly without having to throw it away.”

Bay Coast Bank provided the students with a $500 loan, according to Edith Colón, Company Program Manager for Junior Achievement, who served as the students' mentor. “They had to price out all the expenses; they got quotes for the products and shipping,” Colón said. “They had to start a bank account, create their own website, and figure out how to make purchases, accept payments, and deliver products. They designed their own logo. And Mariana got in touch with a company in China to produce it and ship it here.”

Feliver, an 11th grader at NBHS, managed marketing for MundOrganics, including the website and Instagram presence. She recalled, “I love the camaraderie that we have throughout the program; my colleagues are all very creative and all their ideas are contributed. I made friends, and I learned that a group of students can do great things and think like entrepreneurs.”

Other NBHS team members included senior student Domingo, marketing manager, sophomore Maynor, finance manager, and freshman Isabel, the supply chain manager who also recorded a marketing video for their product.

After selling all the bottles they made, the students repaid the bank and had some profits left over. “Now they know the steps to take to start a small business; they know how to look for investors,” Colón explained. In fact, the team was so successful, according to Colón, that they paved the way for next year. “Because of their commitment and success, they earned a grant for next year for another group, which could include more students… I couldn’t be more proud. I see so much potential in so many of them.”