Students from across Northern Ireland learn vital business lessons at Young Enterprise event
Over 700 students from across Northern Ireland are set to showcase their start-up businesses at an event in Belfast this week.
Pupils from 60 schools on the Young Enterprise Big Market programme have developed their products from conception to production in just three months.
The programme takes each student on a business start-up journey that gives them their first opportunity to trade and launch their product in The Big Market held at St George’s Market on Wednesday December 6.
On the programme students are responsible for creating an initial product concept, developing their product, creating a business plan, raising capital and then marketing and selling their products to the general public.
Over 70 businesses consisting of young people from the ages of 10-18 will be selling everything from jewellery, coffee, baby products, gifts and phone apps to crafts and books amongst other things.
Throughout the event Northern Ireland business leaders will judge the young people’s companies to eventually announce the winning companies on the day.
Carol Fitzsimons, CEO of Young Enterprise, said: “Now in its third year The Big Market gets bigger and better each year. We run regional markets in January & February and realised it was important to also showcase the NI wide aspect of the competition, and let the students meet the competition.
“The event gives young people the opportunity to practice their skills for business and become competent. During the event, I see young people start the day shy, nervous and quiet. By the end of the day, after selling their products to the public, there is a visible transformation in their self confidence and they are interacting and chatting with customers to get the sale.”
Each year Carol and her team are continually surprised by the calibre of companies and products on show at The Big Market.
She said: “Two years ago a company called Enlighten Hope won, went on to win the UK final and came third in Europe. They produced a series of books for families of children going through cancer, and made over £16,000 which was exceptional.
“What was interesting for me, was that they didn’t do particularly well at their Big Market experience, and they learnt from the experience, raised their game and went on to win.
“That’s what Young Enterprise is about – learning how to deal with real challenges and overcome them. Business isn’t always straightforward, and customers might not buy what you want them to, so as a business you need to evolve the product or devise a marketing strategy to increase sales.”
Partnering with Young Enterprise for the event is Belfast City Council who provide St George’s Market as the venue.
Funded by the Department of Education the Young Enterprise Big Market Programme has become an essential part of business learning for young people across the country.
One of the most important elements of The Big Market is the opportunity for anyone to attend as customers from 10-2pm at St George’s Market on Wednesday December 6. This gives students the opportunity to be able to gain valuable insight into their own product as well as learn about the importance of marketing and selling their products.
Carol Fitzsimons believes no one will be disappointed: “Before we start our events, I remind the staff team to stop and take a moment during the event just to take it all in, and realise the value of the work we do in terms of helping young people find their strengths” she said, adding: “It is a privilege to run Young Enterprise, and I just want to make sure as many young people get the chance to discover hidden talents and build their confidence.”
The Young Enterprise Big Market takes place on Wednesday December 6 from 10-2pm at St George’s Market, Belfast.