Pupils at Ballycanew National School may be young, but their business-savvy attitude and entrepreneurial spirit recently scooped them a national award for their innovative business idea.
The sixth class pupils at Ballycanew National School were some of the 9,000 pupils around the country that took part in the 12th year of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) – an entrepreneurship skills programme that promotes teamwork, resilience, problem-solving and creativity. It was their innovative business idea ‘Go-Bags’ that won them the Star Submission Award.
Denise Davitt’s sixth class in Ballycanew National school began their JEP journey by looking at everyday problems they could solve.
“We came up with the Go-Bag because we needed something to carry our shoes and footballs,” said the pupils. “Our football pitch is muddy so we had to bring spare runners if we wanted to go on the grass.”
In response to these issues, the pupils set about creating a light but sturdy bag that looked good and didn’t cost too much. To do this, they carried out market research both in the school and in the community to find out the most popular colours and to gauge the selling price. They also teamed up with two local entrepreneurs, Sorcha Leacy of My Retro Kid and Lynne Finn from the Little Bow Boutique, who became their business mentors. The mentors provided lots of valuable business advice and taught the children practical skills.
When they ran into supply problems for their chosen colour bags, the pupils responded like true entrepreneurs and turned a problem into an opportunity. They decided to order purple bags and a yellow logo and advertised them as limited-edition Wexford bags to increase sales. With the support of the Wexford camogie team, who helped to promote the bags, the limited-edition purple Go-Bag became their top-selling product.
In addition to a launch day, the pupils set up a promotional Instagram account with the help of their teacher, Denise Davitt. By the end of the process, the class had sold 300 bags and had made a profit of €1,146.
JEP is offered free to 5th and 6th classes in primary schools throughout Ireland. The programme started in Kerry in 2010, and approximately 90,000 pupils have participated in the programme since its foundation. JEP has been supported from the outset by co-founder Jerry Kennelly of Tweak.com and was developed in collaboration with Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.