TeHilla Paul has been demonstrating wisdom far beyond her 15 years. She hopes one day she, too, can become a successful businesswoman.
Though just one voice, Paul represents the dreams and aspirations that many of her peers have of one day owning their own business.
Paul is a pupil of St Augustine Girls’ High School and president of a Junior Achievement company called Different Vybz. The organisation consists of pupils from various schools such as Hillview College, Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu School, Holy Cross College, Bishop Anstey High School (East), El Dorado Secondary (West) and St Joseph’s Convent, St Joseph.
They have all come together to participate in Junior Achievement’s annual Open Day and Trade Fair.
However, Different Vybz is just one of the many student companies currently being run across Trinidad and Tobago.
Junior Achievement programme coordinator Nesta Delandro said, “Junior Achievement was started in 1970 as a project of the Chamber of Commerce. Really and truly, this programme that these students are doing is a company programme whereby we take them to run and manage their own business for a period of 20 weeks. There are several companies across the island that are involved. We have 32 student companies this year across Trinidad. We have approximately 60 schools participating in the event. Each student company is comprised of students from different schools. This programme is our flagship programme that has been going strong globally since 1919. This year is our 43rd year in Trinidad.”
For the past 11 weeks, Paul, along with the other participants of the 2013 Junior Achievement programme, has been learning the fundamentals of running a business.
Delandro said, “We teach the kids from two angles. We provide them with manuals which have been provided by us, along with hands-on training. We are aware that they would have learned some of this in the classroom, so what we do is get them to put into practice what they have learnt in the classroom. We also have consultants from the business community to guide them as they go through their processes.”
Paul said, “Different Vybz sells bows, key chains, phone cases and nail art. The reason for the name, well we wanted to mix in the Trinbagonian culture and our vibes. We are different and teenagers are always striving to be different in everything that they do, so Different Vybz basically is a representation of teenagers in Trinidad and Tobago striving to bring about new styles and new trends.”
She noted that in order to attract customers, the vice-president of marketing created a Facebook page (Different Vybz), which has gained over 600 likes thus far. In addition, a Twitter page (@Different_Vybz) was recently established.
Explaining the concept of her business, Paul said, “We realised bows are an emerging style among teenagers, they wear them in their hair and such; and for those who are more creative in their dress may also wear them as neckties. Boys may lean more towards the darker colours as bow ties or they may decide to buy it as a gift for a family member. We also do key chains. Students like them to decorate their bags. We knew that we had to do stuff that teenagers would be interested in. And as a teenager I understand what teenagers like. We also decided to do nail art because we realise girls like to do their nails. So we basically wanted to attract their attention so they would come and buy.”
Hoping to garner more support for their venture and to promote their business idea, Paul said, “Currently raw materials are being shipped in from the United States for the production of our key chains and phone cases, whilst all materials for bows are bought locally. We are currently preparing for our much anticipated trade show on April 12 at 8 a.m.
“What I have learnt from this experience is that you don’t always get to work with your friends. You have to work with people from different backgrounds and not everybody in your company will like you, so you will have to learn how to get along with them and bring about a successful company without starting too much of arguments or disagreements,” she added.