In 1975, Junior Achievement of Guam was founded by Allen A. Pickens, a partner with accounting firm Peat Marwick, today known as Deloitte & Touche LLP. As president of Rotary Club of Guam, Al reached out and introduced JA’s experiential hands-on After-School Company Program. Al’s vision, business connections, and belief in the potential of Guam and its people allowed the program to grow and thrive long after his retirement and departure in 1999.
As a US territory, JA Guam originally reported to JA USA. In the late 1990’s we began participating in Junior Achievement – Canada’s annual student officer event CANJAC. Finally, ten years ago with the establishment of JA Asia Pacific, we found a new home and tribe containing the countries of origin of many of our students and advisors.
Each school year Guam’s Company Program attracts anywhere from 7 to 18 local businesses sponsoring student companies of 25 – 30 high school students. In 2005, JA Guam introduced in-school programs for elementary, middle, and high school students. These programs serve an additional 200 – 600 students annually. Altogether, Junior Achievement of Guam serves on average 650 students per school year.
The Company Program remains JA Guam’s flagship program due to it teaching all three pillars of Junior Achievement – financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work-readiness. It’s exciting to watch student companies continually expand their innovation, creativity and technology, while experiencing day to day business challenges and opportunities. Products continue to evolved from days past and simple candy-gram type products into fashion, phone apps, and a multitude of social and environmentally conscious based products.
Many business leaders and entrepreneurs on Guam credit their experience in the Company Program as a driver of their success today. It’s also been a win-win for many Company Program sponsors who see how their advisor staff developing leadership and business acumen skills themselves. Relationships created between students, advisors and the sponsoring company have been a great recruiting ground for Guam’s future workforce after graduation.
The future looks bright for JA Guam. With additional help from Guam Economic Development Agency, JA board is growing its capacity and value in order to create an even bigger impact for our future economy. We will do this by creating a deeper and wider presence within our schools, expanding our workforce and small business skills development reach, and the creation of a JA Company Store.