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School Based Enterprise

A Live Learning Labratory

A school-based enterprise (SBE) is an entrepreneurial operation in a school setting that provides goods/services to meet the needs of the market. SBEs are managed and operated by students as hands-on learning laboratories that integrate National Curriculum Standards in marketing, finance, hospitality or management.

SBEs provide realistic and practical learning experiences that reinforce classroom instruction. SBEs can sell to consumers through a permanent location, a mobile kiosk or through Internet marketing. Products may include spirit wear, food and beverage items, school supplies, signs and banners and more, while other SBEs provide services such as creative design, advertising sales and more.

School-based enterprises are effective educational tools in helping to prepare students for the transition from school to work or college. For many students, they provide the first work experience; for others, they provide an opportunity to build management, supervision and leadership skills. While some in the education community have only recently discovered the value of school-based enterprises, educators and DECA advisors have used them as a powerful teaching tool for more than four decades.


DECA offers SBE certification on two levels: chapter level through a written project and individual level through a comprehensive exam. The certification program reinforces the integration of National Curriculum Standards and 21st century employability skills into the SBE learning lab environment. Standards covered in both the written project and exam include retail, marketing and entrepreneurship concepts, and a range of business operations standards. Earning a chapter or individual certification garners international recognition, provides credibility, validates curriculum efficacy and strengthens the relevancy of the SBE as a valuable teaching tool. Participating in SBE certification is an effective way of preparing students for DECA competitive events and future higher learning and careers.

Chapter Certification

The program provides SBEs with standards for model school store operation and provides recognition for school-based enterprises at three levels: bronze, silver and gold. The number and type of activities a school-based enterprise completes for each of the standards will determine the level of certification awarded.

Due January 10, 2020

Individual Certification

Through this program members may pursue individual certification in SBE operations through the successful completion of an online exam that measures knowledge and understanding of business operations concepts.

Due January 10, 2020


The School-based Enterprise Academy is held annually during DECA’s International Career Development Conference and is available exclusively to Gold Certified and Gold Re-certified SBEs. Gold Certified SBEs are eligible to bring one advisor and up to two students to the academy with the approval of their chartered association advisor. The academy is designed to combine substantive educational experiences and competition with networking and vendor interaction. Participants will experience dynamic professional development sessions specific to the entrepreneurship field, have the opportunity to share ideas and learn from other SBEs, and compete in an SBE-specific competition focused on best practices.


Gold Certified and Gold Re-certified SBEs attending the SBE Academy at DECA’s International Career Development Conference will participate in a competition consisting of an oral presentation judged by business professionals. The topic of competition rotates each year and is based on one of the 10 business standards covered in the written SBE Chapter Certification project.

DECA members participating in the SBE competition must designate themselves as one of two SBE categories: Retail Operations or Food Operations. (SBEs that are service businesses should select Retail Operations.) The competition rules, presentation guidelines, and performance indicators are identical for the two competition tracks. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards will be presented to the winners of both SBE – Retail Operations Event and SBE – Food Operations Event.

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