It was with great pride and jubilation that two 1st year students from the CBS High School, Clonmel were crowned 'Young Entrepreneurs 2009' at the Student Enterprise Awards National Final in Tullamore last Thursday, May 14. James Dillon and Padraig Power engaged in a real life experience by setting up and running their own business. They produced a booklet titled 'Keep fit in South Tipp' which contains clear and concise details of local walks in the Comeragh Mountains and Slieven
The students carried out extensive market research, including the levels of obesity among young people. They discovered that there is no other book highlighting local walks available to buy and having found a gap in the market they decided to compile their own.
In times of a recession hillwalking is a free way of keeping fit and this booklet is also a way of attracting tourists to Clonmel. The town needs to highlight its attractions to entice more tourists to visit and one of its main assets is its beautiful walks and mountains.
The students started in September 2008 when their teacher Martina O'Reilly introduced her business classes to an Idea Generation workshop. She says that "the High School fosters a hugh entrepreneurial spirit among students and the Student Enterprise Scheme gives them a real insight into self-employment and what is involved in running their own business". She also added that "Setting up your own business provides the students with a sense of ownership and achievement".
Over 10,000 students took part in this competition and it was the winners from each county that reached the national final. The students had to go through several vigorous judging processes along the way before reaching the final stage.
At the County Final in March, Toss Hayes (CEO South Tipperary Enterprise Board) addressed the 190 local schools participants in the Clonmel Park Hotel saying - "You are the entrepreneurs of the future and we need you now more that ever to lead the county and country to renewed prosperity".
For James and Padraig the national final was a culmination of many months of hard work, fun and profit making. They carried out extensive market research, designed and promoted their product and wrote a 20 page Business Report. The experience brought many skills to light such as confidence building, presentation and communication skills and teamwork. It also enchanced creativity and an opportunity to learn about the benefits of a business through first hand experience.
At the national final Padraig and James had to set up a stand displaying their product and it attracted a lot of attention as it included an adult sized puppet. The students were thrilled to showcase their product with this beautiful piece created by local artist Des Dillon. They also had to face three tough judges: Lena Shaw (Corporate Vision), Kieran Comerford (Carlow Enterprise Board) and Sadie Wheatley (SW Design) who interviewed the students individually.
On the day many people travelled to show their support. From the Clonmel Enterprise Board Toss Hayes, Mairead Maher, Judith Dalton and Sue Anne O'Donnell all travelled to Tullamore, along with the students' parents and teacher.
Sue Anne O'Donnell is the Student Enterprise Officer for South Tipperary and she does trojan work in all the schools. She offers expert advise on how to set up a business, how to work as a team and is also responsible for organising the County Enterprise Awards each year. The High School has a very strong relationship with the local Enterprise Board and is extremely grateful for its continued support.
As Padraig and James received their national award: E300, a hand made piece of sculpture and certificates, Michael Tunney (Chairman of County and City Enterprise Boards) said - "Entrepreneurship is the future lifeblood of the Irish economy and today's students are tomorrow's business leaders. This competition takes the first steps in introducing entrepreneurship to young people. It shows the results that flow and how a profitable business emerges when you contribute the right idea with creativity, hard work and commitment".
Before the students got a chance to enjoy their success, they were presented with another surprise - an invitation to the RTE studios in Montrose the following day to be interviewed for the News. The students couldn't believe that they were to appear on national TV but took it all in their stride and represented their school, county and country very well as they spoke with great confidence.
Hopefully the students will follow up on their efforts and look at creating a business as a viable career choice once they leave school. The 'Keep fit in South Tipp' booklet is available in Marian's Bookstore, O' Connell Street or Easons, Gladstone Street, Clonmel.