At the recent briefing session I listened to co-ordinator of the Student Enterprise Programme Serena Bryans explain the programme and I had to wonder how things had changed since my school days.
Over 85% of the secondary schools in the region are part of the Student Enterprise Programme. In addition 9 primary schools take part. In all, nearly 2,000 students from 22 schools will participate in this years competition.
Each one of these brilliant young people will have developed a business idea, conducted the market research, identified the production cost and selling price, developed financial projections and devised a marketing and social media strategy for their business. Most of these student entrepreneurs are under 16 years of age.
And then they compete. They take their business idea into a competitive arena. Their business idea and approach is evaluated by a panel of adjudicators and they compete for the honour of representing their region in the national finals.
But I can’t help but believe that every one of these young people has won. In the safe and nurturing environment of their school days, they are learning the fundamentals of developing and establishing a business. They are learning how to plan, where to find help, that the numbers must add up and that you can’t shirk sales and marketing if you want to get your project to market. They learned a new life skill. They’ve experienced the cut and thrust. They’ve had the the change to test the waters and see whether enterprise and being an entrepreneur could be part of their future. What an incredible lesson to learn at such a young age!
As we study the applications and meet the contestants we are not looking for the best business … we are looking for the entrepreneur, the young person with the combination of vision and reality, of dreams and action, of courage and determination. The Student Enterprise Programme aims to give young people the belief and the skills to envisage a life of entrepreneurship for themselves.
In the work we do at WhiteLight, we are lucky to work with many entrepreneurs. People who have taken a mere pipe dream and created something of value and merit. People who have created employment. People who have contributed to their local economy and the greater community. Each one of those people inspires us and we work hard to support them as they grow and strengthen their business. We are honoured to work alongside them and recognise their belief and their skills.
On March 13th as the winner of the Student Enterprise Awards is named I have a feeling that my breath will be taken away by the number young people who have, at their tender age, learned lessons that it has taken many others a decade to learn.
Equipping young people with the skills to be enterprising bodes well for our future …
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago” Warren Buffet