$20 Boss

Building Australia’s future entrepreneurs on just $20

By any stretch of the imagination twenty dollars doesn’t go far. Yet a unique program is helping Australian school students build entrepreneurial skills for just that amount.

Called $20 Boss, this nationwide, in-school entrepreneurship program focuses on the development of enterprise skills such as financial capability and problem-solving in young people. It’s committed to preparing them for their future work.

$20 Boss was developed by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) in consultation with students and educators, and is now funded by Ecstra (following on from Financial Literacy Australia).

The program − which gives students $20 in start-up capital to create, launch and operate a business venture over the course of a school term − is about putting enterprise skills at the forefront of learning.

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Since 2015, more than 30,000 students from 500 schools across Australia have participated in $20 Boss. The program continues to support teachers to show students how enterprise and business can yield a positive impact in their community. Teachers are provided with a toolkit, which includes comprehensive lesson materials, tasks and activities, teacher notes, assessment and monitoring tools, and inspiration to enrich enterprise learning.

“Students respond sensationally to the opportunity to run a real business. It’s an immersive experience that they learn critical life skills from,” said Molly Whelan, General Manager of Community Engagement for $20 Boss.

Seeing the importance of the program in developing financial capability amongst school students, $20 Boss received a grant from FLA to map the program to the Australian education curriculum. The program is now embedded in school coursework for students in Years 5 to 10, with modules that aim to enhance financial capability, decision-making and the development of an entrepreneurial mindset.  

“The program has seen the creation of thousands of businesses by young entrepreneurs. This is the largest cohort of secondary-school entrepreneurship in Australia,” FYA CEO, Jan Owen said.  

$20 Boss inspired South Australian student, 12-year-old Noah Pronk, to take action on the high levels of plastic in the sea.

Noah drew on his favourite things when searching for business ideas—surfing and swimming. He realised that most surf waxes on the market have plastics and chemicals in their ingredients.

Knowing that when humans eat fish that have consumed plastic and chemicals, they are eating the plastic too, Noah set out change that situation. Understandably, Noah didn’t want to eat plastic.

Noah began researching how to make eco-friendly surf wax and started experimenting with ingredients. Eventually, he landed on Sticky Pronk, the eco-friendly surf wax that uses a blend of Kangaroo Island beeswax and coconut oil.  Noah says these ingredients work just as well as other surf waxes.

With the tight $20 start-up budget, Noah also designed his own hand-drawn label, which has been a hit with the community for its simplicity and authenticity. His mum, Heather Pronk, helps manage the business’ social media accounts and organise deliveries.

True to his business motto “Because surfing matters”, Noah has continued producing his surf wax by hand, rather than opting for mass production. And because he’s experienced the positive impact business can have on the community, Noah plans to continue with his entrepreneurial venture.