Today, a group of entrepreneurs under the age of 18 will present at a forum on National Strategy for Entrepreneurship. Here’s a glimpse of what start-ups led by Irish children are capable of accomplishing.
The instigators of the forum, which Taoiseach Enda Kenny will attend, rightly believe that in order to embed a ‘can do’ culture in Irish society, work must begin in our schools. The forum takes place at Dublin Castle and is being organised by DCU’s Ryan Academy.
“The Forum on Youth Entrepreneurship is a magnificent idea and long overdue,” said Dragons’ Den star Sean Gallagher.
“The future success of our country lies in the hands of the up-and-coming generation of young entrepreneurs. While Ireland relies heavily on the multi-national sector and on foreign direct investment (FDI), the future growth of our country will be in the area of small to medium indigenous companies.
“Every week, I meet with young entrepreneurs in our secondary schools and our third-level colleges and it is they that give me the confidence in the future of our country.”
So who is this bunch of can doers?
Jade Nolan (15) is a Junior Certificate student. She set up her business, Fashionators, as part of the NFTE Programme run through Foróige. Jade won the NFTE International Student of the Year competition and is headed to New York on 11 April for an all-expenses paid trip to attend NFTE’s 18th Annual Salute to the Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards Dinner held at the Mariott Marquis.
Ronan (14) and Conor McGarvey (10) from Loughanure in West Donegal use their evenings and weekends after they’ve done their homework to make wooden pens through the wood-turning process, which they then sell on their website.
Ian Lee (15) and Luke Madden (16), transition-year students from St Davids CBS in Artane, set up their business, Personal Touch, providing personalised, yet affordable, cards. The cards sold out when they attended the National Craft & Design Fair in the RDS.
Sixteen-year-old Kevin Keane established Crakin Coconuts, making candle holders. He started in October selling the product amongst friends. Market research surveys revealed the product was innovative and popular.
Craig Forbes, a 15-year-old transition-year student at Chanel College in Coolock, set up his business, Forbes Graphics, through the NFTE programme. Craig’s graphic design company manufactures stickers and signs for use in businesses and in the home. (ie, no junk mail stickers/bin numbers etc …) Check out his website.
Sarah D’Arcy (17), a transition-year student at St Dominic’s Secondary School, Ballyfermot, Dublin, won the NFTE International Business Plan competition in April 2010. Wishing Wings is a retail business selling original handmade wire angel sculptures made primarily from recycled materials. Sarah makes these handmade sculptures herself and was inspired by her love of angels. Sarah’s business is not only commercially viable but is also giving back to society. Sarah donates 20pc of all profits to Aware, a charity that helps with teen suicide.
Michelle Coakley’s Mishy–K Productions is an earth friendly fashion company producing hand-crafted jewelry made from recycled materials.
Aindriú Ó Fear, Colaiste Mhuire Co-Ed, Thurles, won the overall Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his company called Stress Busters, which designs and manufacturers a unique stress busting doll marketed as a fun and effective way to beat recession anxiety. The product, aimed at both young and old, was conceived because the business-savvy entrepreneur noticed how stressed teachers can become at school and also how the recession had elevated people’s stress levels in general.