Gifted young entrepreneurs recognised at Croydon awards ceremony


The programme is celebrating its 50th anniversary.


By Emma Birkett

An awards ceremony celebrating the best and brightest entrepreneurial spirits in South London took place at Trinity School last Friday evening.

The Young Enterprise event was attended by BBC’s Young Apprentice 2012 runner-up, Lucy Beauvallet as well as several other important community business figures.

The programme aims to equip 15-17 year olds with the tools to succeed in business, giving them a small start-up fund to create, design, finance and market a product to sell to the general public.

Bracey Parish, The Young Enterprise Manager for South London said “It’s basically teaching them about the world of business structure whilst in education.”

Several schools across South London took part, including two teams from a combined grouping of the Croydon schools of Trinity, Whitgift, Coloma Convent Girls, Croydon High, Wilsons, Cambridge Tutors and Old Palace.

The winners of the evening were ‘Prime’, the team from The Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston. The all-female team took to the stage jumping and screaming when the results were announced.

16-year-old Olivia Wallwork, Managing Director of Prime said: “We’re very pleased obviously, it was a very, very tough competition here today and we were completely overwhelmed and surprised that we won.  We really, really weren’t expecting it especially up against such amazing companies from the other schools so it really is an honour to win against such great competition.”

All teams in the final had already won or were runners-up in their regional heats, and the competition and pressure on the teenagers was high.

During the evening the business teams were expected to give a four minute presentation on their companies’ progress.  They were also judged on their trade stalls, accounts and book keeping.

There were a number of inventive products on display. The two Croydon teams Azure and Ace were marketing the Fresher’s Cookbook App and a cuddly bear called Wally respectively.

Miss Beauvallet said: “I was really, really impressed with the standard here tonight.”

Prizes were available for best presentation, most innovative product or service, best company report, best trade/display stand, and the overall winners receiving the South London regional award.

Winners of the regional award will go on to compete against the rest of London in a final in June, and then possibly onwards to compete in a national and international contests.

The Young Enterprise charity, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is sponsored by the bank HSBC and a number of other local and national businesses.

Steve Mitchison, Partner in Menzies chartered accountancy firm, a sponsor of the awards, said: “It’s the future for us in terms of business entrepreneurs and I think this is a very good illustration for the talent we have got, and it’s some serious talent.“

It wasn’t just the sponsors that were impressed by participants. Parents of the youngsters were also quick to highlight the hard work and juggling of responsibilities that went on behind the scenes.

Linda Taylor, mother of Ruby, one of the winners, said: “The dedication they put into this and the time they put into it is amazing. I am really very proud of them because it’s hard work. That they have taken time from their studies and to do this on the side and they are achieving this, it is a very great job they’ve done.”

The winners were also equally enthusiastic about what the programme meant to them.

Olivia said: “We really think that Young Enterprise really gives an opportunity for us to do something so positive so actually helpful and useful to attain life skills and really benefit our futures and it is just such a positive encouraging experience for us I really loved every single moment of it.”

Miss Beauvallet advised the participants to get involved in as much as they possibly can, and to never give up an opportunity for fear of failing as the only failure was not getting involved.

She also added that with hard work they could genuinely achieve anything they wanted and that they had their whole lives ahead of them.

Given the high standard of presentation skills, book-keeping and creativity on show, it seemed that the general opinion was that these young people were already on the right path.

Mr Mitchison said: “I think a lot of much older people will do very well if they could actually replicate this. It’s fantastic.”

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