JA Europe

STUDENT COMPANY REDESIGNS EVERYDAY PRODUCT TO BE ACCESSIBLE

Five students attending Desmond College in Limerick, Ireland, saw a reoccurring problem: friends, family, and neighbors who suffered from a loss of manual dexterity were struggling to insert keys into locks, a process so inconsequential to most of us that we take it for granted. But it wasn’t insignificant to those who couldn’t unlock their doors. The team set about finding a solution, and after a number of prototypes, designed a device that affixes around a keyhole, and then guides the key into the lock. 

Months later—after learning at JA Ireland how to run a real-world business from top to bottom—Guide-A-Key won the prestigious MetLife LifeChanger Award at the JA Europe regional competition, an honor conferred on the student company that best embraces financial performance, innovation, and social impact. Guide-A-Key excelled in all three aspects: They presented a realistic and sustainable business plan; created an innovative design; and provided a critical product that changes lives. With over a quarter-million European students participating in JA student companies, competition was fierce. In the end, Guide-A-Key beat out 36 teams and 345 other competitors at the regional final.

Guide-A-Key’s five team members learned real-world skills from their MetLife mentor, who offered expert advice and helped close the gap between education and business. Such hands-on, experiential entrepreneurship education is empowering the next generation of change-makers, innovators, and business leaders to make the world a better place.