15,000 Secondary School Entrepreneurs Before Christmas

An estimated 15,000 budding entrepreneurs from 400 secondary schools will be setting up and running their own enterprises before Christmas, according to the organisers behind the Student Enterprise Awards.

With support and resources from the County and City Enterprise Boards, the annual Student Enterprise Awards competition is the largest programme of its kind for schools in Ireland.

The 2010/2011 senior category winner, Tara Haughton from Cross and Passion College in Kildare, won the top prize with her 'Rosso Solini' red soles earlier this year. The 16 year-old student now exports her products to over twenty countries, including Kuwait, the US and Brazil and is in the process of translating her product packaging into eight different languages. The teenage entrepreneur is also set to sign a new distribution deal for Australia and New Zealand later this week.

The Minister for Small Business, Mr. John Perry, officially launched the 2011/2012 Student Enterprise Programme in Dublin on Wednesday, with help from Tara Haughton and two other young entrepreneurs from Greenhills College in Dublin.

At the Student Enterprise Awards National Final next April in Croke Park, finalists from all over the country will set-up an enterprise exhibition display stand and take part in an interview with experienced judges, submitting a business plan in advance. Judged on criteria such as innovation, market research, production, finances and business planning, Senior Category winners will enjoy an educational trip to Italy, as part of their prize.

The Chair of the Enterprise Education Committee with the County and City Enterprise Boards, Dave Cody, said: "The long-term goals of the Student Enterprise Programme is to create an enterprising culture in Irish classrooms. Through encouraging, supporting and recognising the next generation of business owners and leaders today, Ireland will see the longer-term positive impact of this programme in Irish boardrooms in the years ahead."

The 2009/2010 senior category winners were led by Stephen O' Callaghan from Presentation College in Carlow. They won the top award with the 'Rap-It' keyring, designed to keep earphones tangle free. Since winning the Student Enterprise Award back in 2010, the Carlow students signed a deal with an Irish mobile phone company, enabling them to sell their products nationwide.

The Student Enterprise Awards programme is run across three categories: Junior Category for first year students; Intermediate Category for second years and Junior Certificate students and the Senior Category for transition year, fifth year, Leaving Cert, LCVP and LCA students.


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