Pupils' business skills put to test in young enterprise contest
TEENAGE entrepreneurs are hoping to claim victory in an Apprentice-style contest after creating a range of hand-made products.
Students at Blackfriars College have set up their own business, called Wood You Believe It, selling products they have hand crafted like bird tables and feeders, benches, chairs and CD racks.
Over the weekend they were at the Potteries Shopping Centre with nine other teams of young businessmen and women, trying to take orders for their products at the Young Enterprise Trade Fair.
The teams were made up of over 100 teenagers, representing eight schools and colleges from across North Staffordshire in the Young Enterprise Company Programme, a competition which grades the budding entrepreneurs on their business skills.
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All the teams have been running their own businesses since September, building practical experience of accounting, marketing, sales, raising finance and product development.
Andy Snape, design and technology teacher at Blackfriars – which has bases at Newcastle and Bucknall – said: "They elected their own board of directors and decided on what type of business they would run. It's all their own work."
Wood You Believe It managing director Tom Griffin, aged 18, of Loggerheads, said: "I have really enjoyed it. We have all worked hard together. There has been some set backs, but we have come back from them.
"We have sold quite a lot of different products and given out order forms, so hopefully we will get a lot of orders from the trade fair."
As well as the many customers looking around the products on sale, there were also a number of judges, keen to scrutinise everything from sales techniques to quality of product – just like Alan Sugar's trusted advisers Karren Brady and Nick Hewer on TV's The Apprentice.
Shaista Taj is MD of the team from the Co-operative Academy in Tunstall.
The 16-year-old from Tunstall said: "We are selling personalised gift-wrapped chocolate-filled mugs. We did some market research and people said they would like mugs, rather than gift bags.
"Over Christmas we raised some money selling candy canes and shares in the company, then we used that money to buy mugs and we put the profits from selling them back into the business."
Young Enterprise North Staffordshire Chairman Richard Swancott said: "This is a great challenge for our Company Programme students.
"They were quizzed by judges from the local business community and their performance goes a long way to deciding who wins the Company of the Year title.
"After the trade fair, they will be tested on their report-writing and presentation skills, and the eventual winner will represent North Staffordshire at the county finals in May."