In Ecuador, Business-Simulation Software Inspires Students’ Entrepreneurial Spirit

QUITO, Ecuador, April 25, 2002 — Students in Ecuador are soaring with the spirit of entrepreneurialism through software.

Microsoft’s International Community Affairs program recently donated US$135,000 in cash and software to help expand the Management and Economic Simulation Exercise (MESE) program developed by Junior Achievement International, an 80-year-old nonprofit organization that began in the U.S. with the goal to promote entrepreneurial spirit in youth aged 5 to 21.

“With this special contribution, Junior Achievement of Ecuador will benefit students of more than 100 schools, from different social and economic levels in 10 provinces of Ecuador,” says Patricio Pea, a member of Junior Achievement of Ecuador’s board. “We expect to have more than 7,000 students reached in a two-year period, helping them to learn about real business in an interactive, fun way.”

MESE, a computer-simulation program, was created by Junior Achievement International and Harvard Associates. The program encourages students aged 15 to 21 attending public and private schools, as well as some universities, to act as business leaders of a virtual company in a competitive environment. Students are placed in teams of as many as eight members, and through analytical and strategic thinking, they compete with other teams within their schools and across the country using MESE’s Web-enabled tools.

The software is intended to help the students develop decision-making, analysis and communication skills. The simulation is conducted over eight weeks, after which the results are reviewed and discussed with the students.

Members of local business communities act as volunteers, advisers and mentors during the eight-week simulation, teaching business concepts and practices to cultivate professional development in students.

“Microsoft is pleased to help expand Junior Achievement International’s mission in Ecuador,” says Francisco Flix, Licensing and Community Affairs manager for Microsoft Ecuador. “Motivating students to enhance the use of technology and promoting entrepreneurial abilities and fair competition will encourage them to think as business leaders and therefore make a better country in the future.”

He adds that exposing students to the technology that MESE uses showcases a way of using innovative software that greatly enhances education, specifically through “learning by doing.”

“Students get a taste of what it is really like to be in the driver’s seat of a business and what it takes to be successful,” Flix says. “The simulation program enables them to learn from both their good and bad decisions and to maintain a positive attitude toward the achieved results and the next set of decisions. I believe the software takes a lot of the mystery out of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”

Ruben Illoldi Garcia-Cerda, general manager of Microsoft Ecuador, says he is looking forward to seeing the results of the MESE program. “Ecuador is a little country with huge intellectual capital,” he said. “Microsoft Ecuador, as a leader in the software and information-technology sector, feels a responsibility to further the intellectual resources in the country, not only in regular business, but in all the brilliant young minds, as well. That’s the main reason we chose to participate in this project.”

Microsoft Ecuador has 19 fulltime employees, with offices in two of the nation’s largest cities — Quito, the capital, and Guayaquil, the industrial center.

“Microsoft Ecuador has played a real role in helping the community by implementing technological projects that allows access to leading-edge technology, and those involvements have even led to recognition by the first lady of Ecuador, Mara Isabel Baquerizo de Noboa,” Garcia-Cerda says.

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