Young entrepreneurs gathered in the Mansion House hoping to wow judges and be crowned ‘Foróige Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2017’.
Fourteen finalists managing seven start-up businesses pitched their products to a panel of expert judges from the business world.
The panel includes Stephen Vernon, M.D., Green Properties; Laura Lunch, Head of Youth Banking, Bank of Ireland; Siobhan Daly, Senior Supply Chain Specialist, Jazz Pharmaceutical, and Judging Panel Chair, John Cahill, Assistant Chief Executive of Foróige.
The teen entrepreneurs are aged between 15 and 17 and have beaten off stiff competition at the county and then regional level to make the national final.
The winner will be determined by a competitive twenty minute Elevator Pitch to the judging panel.
The youths from Limerick, Offaly, Sligo, Donegal and Dublin made the final from 1,000 young entrepreneurs who set up start-up businesses as part of the Foróige Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) programme this year.
Overall 320 businesses participated in the programme in 2017 from 32 sites in counties Dublin, Offaly, Sligo, Donegal, Westmeath, Tipperary and Limerick.
Products developed by the seven finalists include laser made keyring puzzles, gender neutral clothing, wheelie bin clips for windy weather, hand-made soaps for skin conditions, hand-crafted pencil holders, personalised dog collars, and cosmic tie-dyed t-shirts.
Speaking ahead of the event Sean Campbell, Chief Executive of Foróige said “Entrepreneurship is a rare skill, it takes a special mix of creativity, determination, self-discipline and competitiveness to get a business off the ground. These young entrepreneurs have not only created high quality marketable products and thriving businesses, they have laid the foundation for their future careers and earned critical skills for the modern world”.
“For the last four years the winner of our competition has gone on to take the European title. This shows there is something really special about our programme and that the young people coming through it are simply world class”, Mr Campbell commented.
The NFTE programme empowers young people who need additional supports in their lives to develop core skills in business and enterprise to help them unlock their individual talents and potential.
The programme has also shown to be successful in increasing school completion and college attendance rates.