Strong entrepreneurial skills were in evidence among the 36 groups contesting the North Mayo Final of the Student Enterprise Programme at Ballina Sports Centre on Thursday, February 1.
A total of 171 second-level students from north Mayo schools participated in the event. The Student Enterprise Programme is a national enterprise competition for students in Ireland, co-ordinated in Mayo by the Local Enterprise Office, who partnered in 2018 with Moy Valley Resources. Together they work with schools concerning visits, mentoring, receiving business plans, and organising the Mayo local and county finals.
The standard of presented projects was high, echoing the success that Mayo has enjoyed at national final level in recent years. Each student group showcased their unique product or service, developed under the guidance of their teachers and mentors, and these were appraised by the judging panel. Products and services showed a high degree of innovation and originality with many directly relating to the students’ own environment including the farming sector. In addition, many of the teams incorporated other skills such as baking, languages, art, metalwork, woodwork, or information and communication technology (ICT ).
Teacher Edel Casserly from Scoil Muire agus Pádraig, Swinford, said: “The students learn so much about setting up a business from scratch. They know a business plan in theory from studying Junior Cert Business Studies but here is the chance to put it into practice.”
Taryn Kelly, a teacher at Jesus and Mary Secondary School, Gortnor Abbey, Crossmolina, said: “The benefit really is working as part of a team. This wouldn’t have happened to that level last September. It is being part of a process, and being able to learn from mistakes. There is also the financial skills and cost of selling a product.”
Annette Maughan, operations manager, Moy Valley Resources, described the benefits of the competition, saying: “This great competition supports those who have an entrepreneurial mindset and validates it for them, at their age. It promotes the mindset that it is good to be an entrepreneur, to go out and set up a business, and to run it successfully. Developing a business is a way of generating an income in their after-school life.”
Three overall winners were selected at the north Mayo final. In first place was Lough Conn Crafts, St Tiernan’s College, Crossmolina; in second place, Address the Stress, St Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina; and in third, Sensory Stories, St Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina.
The judging panel also selected one team from each school to go forward to the Mayo county final on Thursday, March 1, at the Great National Hotel, Ballina. The winners there will advance to compete at the National Student Enterprise Programme final in Croke Park on Wednesday, May 2.