Foróige NFTE Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2023

Alan May 18, 2023

‘Simply Soap’ was announced as the overall winner of the Foróige NFTE ‘Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2023’ at a ceremony held at Richmond Barracks, Dublin this week. 

Aimee Hegarty, Abbie Boyle and Aoife Smith from St. Catherine’s Vocational School, Killybegs, Co. Donegal won the award in the ‘Best Business’ category for their innovative idea which involves beautiful authentic hand made soap. The young entrepreneurs use a goats milk base which is rich in Vitamin E and highly moisturising to create these fabulous soaps in lavender, lemongrass vanilla and peppermint.

‘Simply Soap’ won the title after competing against over 6,000 young entrepreneurs from all over Ireland through a series of local, county, regional and semi-finals, with a total of 186 local competitions taking place, leading to 30 regional finals. 

The national final saw the top nine young entrepreneurs in the ‘Best Business’ category have the opportunity to pitch their business to an expert panel of judges from some of Ireland's leading companies, as they battled it out to be awarded Foróige NFTE ‘Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2023’. 

In addition to the presentation of the overall ‘Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award’, there were three other award categories including ‘Best Innovation’ won by Sarah Hegarty, from Grange School, Co. Sligo for her business ‘Girls in the Game’. ‘Best Social Enterprise’, was won by Patricia Poprawa, Marta Pazlinska and Tia Cooper from Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana Co. Donegal for their business ‘Lil Phil’s’, and a ‘Special Recognition’ award was won by ‘Jolly Socks’, created by Jack Lafferty from Co. Donegal.

Each young person participating in the final proceeded through the ‘Foróige Network forTeaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Programme’, which involves approximately 40 hours of learning and includes the facilitation of a number of interactive sessions that enable young people to come up with a business idea, develop their product/service, design a business plan and trade in the real world.  

‘Simply Soap’ will now go on to represent Ireland at the ‘European Youth Entrepreneur Awards’ in Austria later this year.  

A huge special thanks to the judges who took part in helping to select all those who took part in the Awards. Your dedication, guidance and generous curiosity in the work of these budding entrepreneurs is helping to sow the seeds of innovation and entrepreneurship around Ireland.

Final Judges 

Ronnie M Griffin, Global Head of Trustee & Fiduciary Services, HSBC and basis.point

Suzanne Dalton, Higher Executive Officer, Department of Education

Gavan McGregor, Executive Director, Product Management, JP Morgan

Karen Hannify, Director of Marketing, Communications and External Relations, Foróige

Sinead Colreavy, EY's Irish FSO People Partner

Eric O'Brien, Area Manager - South, Foróige

John Weedle, Country Head Securities Services, HSBC

Claire Byrne, Project Manager, MasterCard

Jen O’Brien, Foróige Relationship Manager, Accenture

Miriam Ryan, Director of Targeted Services and Safeguarding, Foróige

Damien McKelvey, Client Service Delivery Manager and Corporate Sustainability Lead, HSBC

Dara Connoly, CEO, Common Purpose

Niamh Young, Management Consultant, Accenture

Lorraine Corcoran, Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland (SERI)


Semi Final Judges

Suzanne Cambell, JP Morgan

Johanna Clancy, NUIG

Dylan Finlay, Accenture

Bryan Gavin, Foróige

Lisa Glesson, HSBC

Neha Jauhari, Rethink Ireland

Kinga Kabat, Maples

Donal Kearney, Grow Remote

Amy Keatinge, Partas

Marina Lambrakis, Foróige

Adam Leech, Foróige

Colin McDonald, Fine Grain Property

Lauren McLoughlin, Maples

Edel O'Malley, basis.point

Maria O'Toole, PayPal

David Panter, Maples

Liam Ryan, Volunteer

Joanne Shaw, basis.point

Sheena Taylor, JP Morgan

Tom Tennant, JP Morgan