County Longford students take part in National Finals of the Student Enterprise Programme

Supported by the Local Enterprise Office, Longford 

Press Release: 17 May 2024  

Students from Ardscoil Phádraig in Granard, Moyne Community School, and Ballymahon Vocational School took part in the recent Student Enterprise Programme National Finals in The Mullingar Park Hotel. The competition is supported by the Local Enterprise Office, Longford. Representing County Longford in the Junior category was Maria Kelly from ‘Hats Scents’ at Ardscoil Phádraig in Granard. Grainne McKenna and Sarah Mollaghan from ‘Trendy Threads’ at Moyne Community School took part in the Intermediate category, while Kiera Hopkins, Lára Flood and Grace Cassells from ‘Handle Holders’ at Ballymahon Vocational School participated in the Senior category.

There were 81 student businesses in contention across three main categories for the Final in what is Ireland’s largest entrepreneurship programme for second level students. The initiative is funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country. This year, 28,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country took part. Since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003, over 400,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business.

Peter Burke, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, who took part in the ceremony, congratulated the students today; “Congratulations to everyone who made it to today’s National Finals. With over 28,000 students taking part in this year’s programme, it is a huge achievement to make it to the Finals and shows a real flair for entrepreneurship. Some amazing businesses and entrepreneurs have come from this programme – the majority did not win any prizes but are still running successful businesses today. So, to those of you who won something today, a huge congratulations, but most importantly, to you all, this is the first step on the path, you are the entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future and everyone here today is excited to see what you do next.”

Head of Enterprise with Longford County Council Michael Nevin said; “Year on year the Student Enterprise Programme continues to showcase the very best of Irish ingenuity and entrepreneurship amongst our secondary school students. This year produced a varied selection of businesses, from agricultural products and homemade gifts to pet apps and seaweed harvesting and some amazing winners across the board. We see every year that the National Finals are not an end point for our student entrepreneurs, but a stepping stone on the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey. From our class of 23/24 we hope to see some of our next great wave of Irish business leaders and global entrepreneurs emerge.”

The National Final students who competed across three categories (Junior, Intermediate and Senior) were all in attendance and exhibiting their businesses on the day. Each student enterprise was challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product.

The Student Enterprise Programme is open to students of all ages at secondary level, with three separate categories: Junior (first year), Intermediate (second and third year) and Senior (fourth, fifth and sixth year, LVA, Leaving Certificate Applied and Youth Outreach).

The three main category winners on the day were: ‘Finnegan Fabrication High Lift’ from St Patrick’s Classical School, Navan, representing Local Enterprise Office, Meath (Senior), ‘Esker Timber Creations’ from Presentation College Athenry representing Local Enterprise Office, Galway (Intermediate), and ‘Carry Camán’ from Presentation Secondary School Castleisland representing Local Enterprise Office, Kerry (Junior).

Longford is no stranger to success at this competition. In May 2023, Caitlin Morris from Moyne Community School, County Longford created history by winning first prize in the Intermediate category at the National Finals of the Student Enterprise Programme with her mini enterprise named: ‘Clip Clop Designs’. The sustainable business repurposes horseshoes to make colourful decorations.

Other recent Longford successes include Best Endeavour in 2022 for ‘Saoirse’s Bakes and Cakes’ from Moyne Community School; Best Commercial Potential in 2021 for ‘Handy Hooks’ from Ballymahon Vocational School; Best Commercial Potential in 2018 for ‘Reel Easy’ from Moyne Community School and second place in the Senior category in 2017 for ‘J&S Kitchen Aid’ from Mercy Secondary School in Ballymahon.

The Student Enterprise Programme is one of a number of initiatives that the Local Enterprise Offices run to foster entrepreneurship across the country. Others include Local Enterprise Week, the National Enterprise Awards, National Women’s Enterprise Day, and Local Enterprise Showcase. The Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities are funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland.

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