School pupils become young entrepreneurs

THE Outlet recently played host to a trade fair for local schools participating in the Young Enterprise Northern Ireland’s Company, Team and QuickStart Programmes, also supported by the Department of Education and Ulster Bank.

With advice from local business volunteers, the pupils set up and run a business to manufacture and sell products to learn about running a business first-hand. They elect a board of directors from amongst their peers, raise share capital, and market and finance a product or service of their own choice. At the end of the year they liquidate the company and present a report and accounts.

A wide range of products were on sale, including Christmas crafts and innovative handmade gift ideas, such as health calendars, smartphone Apps and jewellery.

The trade fair is the next step in the Company of the Year Competition. Judges from the local business community, including personnel from The Outlet and Banbridge District Council, were on hand to evaluate each company, and this evaluation, along with the interviews the students will undergo to pitch their company, will help determine regional winners in May 2011.

Several Upper Bann MLAs, including Sydney Anderson, Stephen Moutray and Jo-Anne Dobson, also visited the trade fair to witness first-hand the entrepreneurial spirit amongst the youth in their constituency.

Approximately 20 companies from 13 schools pitched their stalls, including Newbridge College, Banbridge Academy and Donard School.

Chris Nelmes, Manager of The Outlet welcomed the ‘new retailers’ to the complex, commenting: ‘The Outlet has been proud to support Young Enterprise’s Southern Region’s Christmas Trade Fair for a number of years now. The innovation and quality is incredible – some of the products on sale here today are worthy of high street chains. We are delighted to be able to encourage the next generation of young local business leaders, and would sincerely hope that we could be welcoming them back to The Outlet as future retailers.

“Young Enterprise plants the seed for future enterprise, leading to job creation and sustainable business,” commented Cathy Morrison, Senior Development Manager at Young Enterprise Northern Ireland. “We are delighted that so many schools have participated in this event, and by the support that the local traders and shoppers have demonstrated at The Outlet today.”

This year’s winners were as follows: Best Product – ‘$ave On’, Banbridge Academy, Best Organised – ‘Wind Ups’, St Joseph’s High School, Crossmaglen,

Best Display – ‘The Honey Hive’ – Dromore High School, Best Sales Person – Rachael Moore, ‘Bee Happy’, Hunterhouse College, Best Company – ‘Aspire’, Markethill High School, Best Team Company – ‘The Beech Company’, Clounagh Junior High School, Best QuickStart Company – ‘The Crafty Crafters’, Drumcree College.

Young Enterprise Northern Ireland is building an interconnected world of young people, business volunteers and educators, inspiring each other to succeed through enterprise. As Northern Ireland’s foremost business and enterprise education charity, all its programmes are based on the principle of ‘learning by doing’, to promote a culture of enterprise from an early age.  All activities are delivered by fully-trained business volunteers from partnership organisations and supported by the Department of Education, and a variety of public and private sector organisations

To find out more about corporate support or volunteering opportunities, please contact Young Enterprise Northern Ireland on 02890 327003.