17 May 2022

Brilliant young business brains on show at Foyleside

Young business stars of the future got to show off their entrepreneurial talents at an event in Derry on Friday.

Young business stars of the future got to show off their entrepreneurial talents at an event in Derry on Friday.

Young Enterprise students held a trade fair at Foyleside Shopping Centre to sell products they have created.

Young Enterpise is a charity which runs a number of business-related programmes with local schools.

The students were tasked with setting up their own business and sourcing and selling a product on a budget of £160.

The companies then had to compete against each other to market their products and try to make a profit.

The regional finals took place on Friday in Foyleside Shopping Centre, where they not only had to impress the judges, but they also had to impress the public.

The students put their people skills to the test to entice shoppers to invest in their product.

Carol Fitzsimons, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise NI, said the fair is vital in fostering budding entrepreneurs.

“Getting them to start their own businesses is all about developing their creative skills, their ability to communicate with members of the public and letting them learn by making money instead of just reading it in a book.

“The students here today are aged 16 and 17 so its time to get them thinking about their future careers, not just in terms of the job itself but the skills they'll need to do those jobs.

“Through this project, they can begin to understand their own strengths and weaknesses,” Ms Fitzsimons told The Derry News.

There were a number of local businesses who supported the students from the beginning and who were then trusted with the difficult task of judging the competition.

Managing Director of Allstate, John Healy, was one of the competition judges.

“This event is great for the students to see how business works and for them to get the skills they'll need for a successful future.

“It's also great for us as a business to be involved as some of these young people might be inspired to join our business in the future,” he said.

Mr Healy was very impressed with the businesses taking part in the competition.

“There are some very innovative ideas here that have low manufacturing costs with high profit margins. Some of the ideas are very smart.”

Most of the companies set up by the students were focused on climate change or made using recycled materials.

Lumen Christi Colleges' company Yipbee used waste wood, paper and ink from the schools' technology department to make badges and cards with eco-friendly messages on them.

Glassic Jars in Foyle College saved glass jars from lanfilll by painting and reselling them while St Columbs' College pupils were frustrated about the amount of plastic water bottles that end up in the ocean and so they decided to do something about it.

They were selling water bottles that keep your drink hot for 12 hours and cold for 24 under the company name Jes'n.

“We were buying water bottles every day in school for a pound a bottle and that added up to over £200 a year. One of our water bottles cost £7.99 and would last for years so not only are you saving the environment but you're also saving money,” explained Jamie McGinley.

Lisneal's company Scrunch-it made scrunchies with a difference out of recycled clothes donated by fellow students.

The 'Dump it for Scrunch-it' box filled up with old clothes and material and the students used these to make scrunchies.

Some of the scrunchies had a zip so that wearers could store their keys and money when out and about.

The Green Defenders from St Cecilia's wrote and illustrated their own book to make children more aware of the damage being done to the environment.

They went to schools and read the book to children and have had great success so far with their business.

Mental health was also a big theme for the companies involved in the competition.

Thornhill's company The Art of Conversation gave cue cards to help people get chatting.

Ardnashee pupils rescued books that were going to be thrown out by another school and made Buddy Bags for people to share with their friends and read the book together while also having a reusable tote bag to save on plastic waste.

Caolan Doherty from Ardnashee assured the Derry News that some of the books are 'very good indeed' and teacher Sinéad Crossan has big hopes for the future of the company.

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