Some 200 pupils from 11 primary schools across Mayo have spent the past 12 weeks getting to grips with the world of business and honing their entrepreneurial skills.
The Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP ), which is running in Mayo for this first time this year, has seen young fifth and sixth-class pupils come up with novel business ventures from innovative culinary products to interactive board games, artisan offerings, a school creperie, and language education aids.
The JEP in Mayo was sponsored by CMS Distribution, Kiltimagh, and its founder and managing director Frank Salmon said he was impressed with the ambitious projects and drive to succeed exhibited by the young participants.
“The project ideas are exceptional and they have set a very high standard for the first year of the project in Mayo. JEP has brought entrepreneurship into their local communities and their own families and shows them with hard work and drive, that they too can be an entrepreneur,” he said.
Eleven schools signed-up to take part in the programme. Teams from each school brought their ideas to a Dragons Den panel made-up local entrepreneurs and business people, who then selected one project from each school to go forward in the programme.
In Mayo Abbey NS, a craft weaving product made the cut while in Scoil Iosa, Ballina, a school creperie and ‘hot lunch Fridays’ idea was selected.
Other winning ideas included a spice sachet product for home-cooking from Gort Skehy NS in Hollymount, and a CD to help people learn Irish through phonetics and music from Gaelscoil na Cruaiche in Westport.
Principal at Gortskehy NS, Pádraig O’Beirn said JEP was a fun environment where pupils learned how to develop a business idea.
“The benefits extend far beyond turning an idea into reality,” he said. “The project is something the pupils are really excited about and has helped develop their presentation, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills.”
All of the pupils’ business projects will be showcased in the Park Hotel, Kiltimagh, on April 9, from 12.30pm to 2.30pm.
CMS Distribution will be running the programme in Mayo again next year and is inviting schools interested in taking part to visit www.juniorentrepreneur.ie