Inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs
The School of Business at Leicester was delighted to host a round of the Young Enterprise Company Programme Showcase Events.
Running throughout one academic year, students (aged 14-19) are tasked with setting up an enterprise and all that it entails: deciding on a company name, logo and product, creating a business plan, managing the student company finances and selling to the public at trade fairs. Teams compete against other schools in local, regional and national competitions. The showcases saw 18 student companies from 16 Leicestershire schools and colleges (approximately 145 students) compete for 6 places at the County Final.
Matthew Higgins, Associate Dean for Enterprise and External Relations (School of Business) commented: ‘It is fantastic to welcome Young Enterprise back to the University of Leicester. As a School of Business, we are committed to encouraging sustainable enterprise and entrepreneurship in all forms and hosting the Young Enterprise regional showcase event supports our community development agenda. The energy and enthusiasm the pupils bring to the event is invigorating and it is a pleasure to be able to support the teams through the process by exploring and challenging their enterprise ideas. We look forward to continuing to develop our partnership with Young Enterprise and wish all participants the best of luck with their next steps.’
Rachel Wrigglesworth (School of Business), who helped to facilitate the showcase events, spoke with a number of students, teachers, judges and guests to find out what the experience meant to them. Here are the key highlights.
- Exceptionally motivated and innovative students
Although the judges were blown away with the high quality and creativity of the products, the real stars of the days were the students themselves. Enthusiastic from arrival, students worked together to turn an empty room into a bustling space of original trade stands. From festive bottle holders to personalised cacti, students displayed the fruits of their hard work over the past seven months, showing a true emotional connection with their ventures. Judge, Dr Polina Khrennikova (School of Business) was particularly impressed by ‘how the students managed to allocate the workload and management roles in a very collaborative and democratic manner.’
- Skills for life developing in front of our eyes
By participating in the programme, it was clear that students were developing and growing as individuals. Simon Pope, teacher and Young Enterprise Centre Lead at Sir Jonathan North Community College agreed that ‘we’ve seen our students really mature; they are learning how to lead and have developed their time management skills. Our students are also now considering going into business as a career option.’ The evening presentations by each company showcased students’ increased self-confidence and public speaking skills – attributes which will be invaluable for any future career.
- A taster of University life
Students were joined by current University of Leicester students who gave them a break from presentation and trade stand preparations by taking them on a brief campus tour. Eileen Clarke (Head of Internal Audit at Nottingham Building Society) Business Advisor for Regent College commented, ‘Our students really appreciated the tour giving the first-hand experience of university life. Our student ambassador Shimon, immediately created a rapport with the group and gave a students’ perspective on the value of a university degree and the commitment it requires.’
- Inspirational key-note speakers
University of Leicester student society Enactus deserves a big thank you for delivering inspiring talks on both evenings. Key messages that came across were around the essential skills of an entrepreneur such as being resilient and resourceful, and advice on conquering public speaking. Enactus is an international organisation that connects student, academic and business leaders through entrepreneurial-based projects. It empowers people to transform opportunities into real, sustainable progress for themselves and their communities. It was brilliant for Young Enterprise students to see where their enterprise endeavours could take them!
- An incredible team of supporters
Teachers, parents, carers, Business Advisors, Young Enterprise Board members and staff at the School of Business were proud to be part of such an amazing, committed team who made this programme a success. Supporters worked and collaborated with the students perfectly, and we look forward to working with Young Enterprise in the future.
Congratulations to all students who took part in these showcase events and those who were awarded for specific aspects of their company (for example, Best Trade Stand, Creativity & Innovation, Teamwork, Financial Management).
Rachel Wrigglesworth, Business Development Co-ordinator (School of Business) at University of Leicester, School of Business.