Yesterday Annie, one of our company directors spent the morning at St Joseph’s Primary School in Crossgar, Co Down, as part of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme which was introduced to schools across Northern Ireland last year.
Three groups of P7 pupils presented their business ideas to a panel of “Dragons” in a Dragons Den style pitch, Annie couldn’t believe the enthusiasm and passion the pupils had for their pitches. The panel, made up of teachers and business dragons from Mash Direct & Suki Tea, found it hard to select the best idea, but eventually decided on “Easter Secrets” a surprise Easter goody bag which the pupils will source the contents and create the packaging for under £1.00 cost and intend to sell to their local shops in Crossgar and surrounding area for a profit. They will also be selling these Easter Secrets at their school fayre.
The pupils were so engaged and interested in learning a bit more about the world of business, asking fantastic questions about Suki Tea:
Q: Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Annie: No, I just wanted to ensure that I enjoyed my work and did something that I was proud of.
Q: Do you work long hours?
Annie: I used to, before 3 young children came along. Now I try to manage my work-life balance as I understand how important it is not to let the business take over your life. We also have a great team at Suki Tea so business tasks that I used to do can now be handled expertly by my colleagues, which means I can focus on the strategy of the business.
More about the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP)
The JEP was founded in 2010 in County Kerry and its aims are to provide entrepreneurial education to Primary School pupils all over Ireland.
JEP is a not-for-profit initiative and its development has been led by entrepreneur Jerry Kennelly and supported by his company Tweak.com. The JEP curriculum is the result of collaboration between entrepreneurs and Mary Immaculate College Limerick. It has been hailed as a model for entrepreneurial learning – as well as having very strong links to the Primary School Curriculum.
JEP provides everything that is required to run the programme including step-by-step Teacher’s Guide. During the programme children use their creativity to come up with business ideas, they choose one idea and then work to turn it into reality over a 10-16 week period. They’ve got to do the hard work – researching what customers really want, working out their costs and how much to charge for it. They figure out what they are good at and try to use those skills to play their part in a team. Along the way, they’ve got the support of their classmates, teachers and family. Through the programme, pupils get a clear picture of what creating a business involves.
The programme is sponsored by local entrepreneurs in counties across Ireland and it was introduced to Northern Ireland last year. Mash Direct were the first company in Northern Ireland to host the programme in County Down.
The programme is strongly aided by local business people, ( where Annie comes in), who donate some of their time to go into the schools involved and offer advice to the children on the various ideas they have come up with themselves. The business person, along with a panel of “Dragons” will help the children realise which idea is most financially viable and practical to produce, given the timeframe of ten weeks for the completion of the programme. Annie felt the programme was very worthwhile and thoroughly enjoyed taking a proactive role in helping to develop the skills of our future entrepreneurs.