St George’s Market in Belfast played host to over 700 students across Northern Ireland who showcased their start-up businesses at The Big Market recently.
Pupils from 60 schools from four Young Enterprise programmes – Company, Team, QuickStart & Business Beginnings – developed their products from conception to production in just three months.
The programmes take each student on a business start-up journey that gives them their first opportunity to trade and launch their product at The Big Market.
On each of the programmes 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 were selling everything from jewellery, coffee, baby products, gifts and phone apps to crafts and books amongst other things.
Carol Fitzsimons, CEO of Young Enterprise, said: “Every year the young people on the Young Enterprise Company, Team, QuickStart & Business Beginnings programmes raise the bar when it comes to their product creation, innovation, development and selling.
“From fairy doors, craft packs and artisan coffee to jewellery, mobile apps, gift sets, slime, stress balls and more, the selection of products on show at The Big Market 2017 was nothing short of excellent.
“Throughout the day we watched our young entrepreneurs execute all their learning from the programmes to connect with not just their customers but also their competitors and team-mates on the day.
“A big thanks goes out to all the schools who support their students in taking part, our mentors, sponsors and judges. Without whom The Big Market simply couldn’t be the success it is.”
Throughout the event Northern Ireland business leaders judged the young people’s companies and announced the winning companies.
Quickstart Award, supported by Ulster Bank
Highly commended: Hazelwood College – Dye
Runner up: St Matthew’s Social Club – KALL
Winner: St Patrick’s College Banbridge – Slimy Business
Business Beginnings Award
Runner up: Assumption Grammar School
Winner: Strathearn Prep – Little Jewellers
Highly commended: St Patrick’s College Banbridge – Gadget Control
Runner up: Fleming Fulton School – Spruce It Up
Winner: Everton Day Centre – Crafted Hands
Social Media Award
Winner: Regent House Grammar School – Th13teen
Innovation in IT Award, supported by Bank Of Ireland
Winner: Belfast High School – Avidity
Highly commended: Glenlola Collegiate, Enlite
Runner up: Downshire School, Culina
Winner: Omagh Academy, Spectrum
Social Media Award – TH13TEEN, Regent House Grammar.
Andrew Ritchie (17), Managing Director: “We were happy just to participate, it was an absolute delight to win. Catelyn Reid and Sam Hill were in charge of social media. There’ll definitely be a Regent House Grammar team here next year.”
Company Award – Spectrum, Omagh Academy.
Kyle Sawyers, Managing Director said: “We didn’t expect to win at all. Everyone worked so hard since September, I’m so proud of all of us. Today has definitely encouraged us to pitch our product beyond Young Enterprise, to online sales.”
Innovation in IT Award, supported by Bank Of Ireland – Avidity, Belfast High School
Andrew Allen (17), Administrator Director of Avidity said: “We are all overwhelmed and proud, we all put a lot of effort in to the event today.”
Quickstart Award, supported by Ulster Bank – Slimy Business, St Patrick’s College, Banbridge.
Chloe (12) said: “I can’t believe it. It’s Slimtastic! Debating with customers was the best part of the day and I definitely want to do this when I grow up.” – Chloe, 12, Slimey Business
Team Award – Crafty Hands, Everton Day Centre, Belfast
A spokesperson for the team said: “We feel brilliant, it is outstanding, we are all so proud of ourselves. I wouldn’t do without young enterprise and it gives me a reason to get up in the morning.”
RUNNERS UP QUOTES
Highly Commended Company Programme – Glenola Collegiate, Enlite
Megan Turner said: “It was a group effort. We will continue working on our product and intend to be back next year.”
Runner Up Business Beginnings – Assumption Grammar School, Hug In A Mug, Wooden Wonder & Crafty Creations
Lauren Magee and Claire Skelly said: “We can’t believe we won something, we all worked very hard, it was a great day and we had fun.”
Highly Commended Team – St. Patrick’s College, Banbridge, Gadget Central
Miss Aisling McKay said: “I would highly recommend this programme, we all had a fantastic day at the big market”
Runner Up Company Award – Downshire Community School, Culina
They said: “We feel good, we didn’t expect to win anything but we all worked so hard at the whole project so we are very happy.”
Partnering with Young Enterprise for the event is Belfast City Council who provided St George’s Market as the venue.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, said: “As part of our Belfast Agenda, which sets out our vision of where we want to see our city in 2035, we have set ourselves the task of creating a Belfast where everyone benefits from a thriving and prosperous economy, and where every young person leaving school has a destination that fulfils their potential.
“Young Enterprise plays a vital role in empowering young people by helping them to develop the business skills which will be of invaluable help to them when they leave school, and events such as The Big Market teach them the additional skills which they will require to survive in a highly competitive business world.”
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.
Department of Education Permanent Secretary, Derek Baker said: “The Young Enterprise Big Market programme provides a great opportunity for young people to see first-hand what it is like to run their own businesses.
“Strong links between local businesses and schools are essential in ensuring there is no ‘skills gap’ and that pupils are equipped to make decisions about their future careers.”