Sunday 16 December 2018

'I might be an entrepreneur one day' - schoolchildren make over €1K profit turning waste into a business

Scoil Chaoimhin Naofa National School pupils Holly Shanks and Kornel Szovati testing their Set A Blaze product
Scoil Chaoimhin Naofa National School pupils Holly Shanks and Kornel Szovati testing their Set A Blaze product
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

IMAGINE taking a waste product and transforming it into more than €1000 profit and all while studying in national school.

One group of fifth and sixth class pupils from Chaoimhin Naofa school in Glendalough, Co Wicklow, did just that when they acquired a local joinery company’s leftover wood.

The schoolchildren created their own business, Set A Blaze and asked members of their local community how much they’d be willing to pay for wood pellets to light household fires.

Settling on a €2.50 price tag for material set to wind up in a bin, the children realised they had a goldmine on their hands.

Pupil Lochlan Sweetman, 12, said:  “The pellets are renewable and it was a handy waste product.  We sold a lot of bags.

“It’s pretty hard being an entrepreneur and you need to think outside the box but I learnt how to work as a team and listen to everyone’s ideas.”

The children took part in the project as part of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) - a scheme which has this month been extended to take new applicants right up until October 24.

JEP is a free 12-week programme led by entrepreneur Jerry Kennelly from software company, Tweak Cloud.  And if the children had continued their business, they’re confident they’d have made even more money.

Scoil Chaoimhin Naofa National School pupil Holly Shanks
Scoil Chaoimhin Naofa National School pupil Holly Shanks

40,000 pupils have started classroom businesses and collaborated with local businesspeople on the initiative since 2010.

The programme is helping children across Ireland learn entrepreneurialism, which complements what they’re learning on the curriculum and as Ireland increasingly moves towards a ‘gig culture’ more young people may find such skills vital.

Read More: Quick as a flash, the 11-year-old entrepreneurs

“I might be an entrepreneur some day hopefully,” said Lochlain, who also dreams of being CEO of Ferrari.  “I learnt how it felt to be in business and it was very social.

“The most exciting part was selling logs and going to a business showcase day. The other business people there thought our product was great.

“The logs help the environment because they are not producing carbon dioxide which goes into the atmosphere worsening global warming and they’re processed from managed sustainable woods.”

Pupil Kate Byrne, 12, said:  “I used to be scared to share my ideas in large groups but after JEP I’m not scared anymore.

“Being part of the programme made me more confident to speak up.  I want to be a meteorologist or a writer one day and I definitely think the business skills I’ve learnt would assist me in one of those careers.

“I’ve improved in English and maths since taking part in JEP, so it’s helped me in school too.”

Read More: Business savvy kids can apply for Junior Entrepreneur Programme

Leonora Doyle, fifth and sixth class teacher, said:  “The programme was very inspirational for the children and myself, it inspired them to believe anyone could be an entrepreneur.

“They could put anything into it and make money out of it.  This was a meaningful way to teach them how to make profit.

“I noticed a huge change in the children. Their confidence improved, they came out of themselves.  “Some kids were shy and weren’t used to talking to people but it wasn’t as daunting for them because they wanted to make money.

“And when the kids started to see the profits come in, the more effort they put into the project. I’d encourage any school to take part in JEP because it’s given the children here a world of opportunity to realise what they can do if they put all their efforts into it.”

The class sold €1,308.30 of pellets and made a profit of €1,151.80.

To apply to take part in the Junior Entrepreneur Programme log onto  The deadline is October 24.

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