Saipan Southern High School launched this week what it calls the “Uchiwa Project,” which seeks to hand out free fans to tourists as a means to boost the entrepreneurial skills of students while promoting the Commonwealth as a destination.
The project was conceptualized by a 12-member team from SSHS that will vie for the Junior Achievement program honors in upcoming competitions.
The JA program aims to cultivate work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy among students by engaging them in the practical experience of running a business.
Every year, each public high school team forms and operates a business using “shares” as their starting capital. The group is guided by teacher advisers and private sector volunteers to come up with a business product that will be showcased in a trade fair and compete with one another.
Group president Yoshi Yagi and vice president Paul Mariano told Saipan Tribune that the “Uchiwa Project” aims to help the Commonwealth in promoting the destination, aid businesses in their marketing campaigns, help public schools with their essential needs, and develop members as good entrepreneurs.
“Uchiwa” is a Japanese word for “fan.”
Yagi, a frequent traveler to Japan, said that he was motivated to recommend the project for the JA competition because he saw the need to. If successful, SSHS will dedicate a booth at the airport for the distribution of the product.
The group targets to raise $27,000 in capital, through sponsorships from the private sector, in order to produce 5,000 fans for tourists as they land at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport. Companies can sponsor ad space on these fans, which will then be marketed and promoted among tourists here and in Japan. The fans will be given to tourists for free.
“Japanese tourists really enjoy traveling to our island. As soon as they get off the plane, they want information that will immediately tell them 'what's best in this island.' This 'uchiwa' project can help them. It can immediately direct them to go to the best food places, for example,” said Yagi.
The fans will also serve as “free” advertising material for businesses as tourists love to bring home souvenirs.
Any profit the group generates will stay with the school to assist other public schools that badly need help such as toiletries and other important supplies.
“Tourists always want something to remember the place they visited. In bringing these fans as souvenirs from their visit, we can potentially attract more visitors to come. When this happens, it will be a win-win situation,” added Yagi.