Young Entrepreneurs Shine Bright Through Adversity 

foroigeadmin May 10, 2021

The Foróige Youth Entrepreneur of the Year for 2021 was announced today with Tadhg O’Brien, 17,  from Louth taking the title for his business Scriptorium Pens

Handcrafted wooden pens take the top spot in the competition for young entrepreneurs 

Fiona Karki, 17, from Sligo wins the innovation category with a contactless pedestrian traffic light system.

Tadhg O’Brien, age 17, from Co. Louth has won the title of Foróige Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 with his business called Scriptorium Pens. Coming from a generational background of craftsmen, Tadhg makes handcrafted wooden pens from native Irish trees such as Beech, Ash, Irish Yew, and ancient Irish Bog Oak. Every pen is individually turned, shaped, polished, and finished to the highest quality.  Tadhg participated in the NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship programme in his school,  Scoil Uí Mhuirí in Dunleer, Co. Louth. The pen offers a first-class writing experience along with being eco-friendly and sustainable, with refillable ink cartridges.

Tadhg won the title after competing against over 5,000 young entrepreneurs throughout Ireland through a series of local, county,  regional and then the national final where the top nine young entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to an expert judging panel. Judges this year included Clive Bellows and Des O'Donohoe representing basis. point, Paul Fagan from ActionCOACH, Declan Power from the Department of Education and Skills, Claire Byrne from Mastercard and Alex Cooney from Cybersafe Kids.

Tadhg will now go on to represent Ireland at the European Youth Entrepreneur Awards in Switzerland in 2022.  Speaking about his win Tadhg said “I just can’t believe it. I’m delighted and so grateful to be given the opportunity to represent my county and Ireland at the European awards in Switzerland, plenty of more pens to be made before then though!”

The Foróige Youth Entrepreneur of the Year competition celebrates young people who have participated in the NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Programme in their schools, youth projects or alternative education providers.  The cutting edge, world recognised programme has shown to be successful in increasing school completion and college attendance rates. Given COVID-19 restrictions, the competition and awards took place virtually this year.


Best Innovation Category

The Best Innovation Category was this year won by Fiona Karkia, age 17, from Ursuline College in Sligo who designed a contactless traffic light system for pedestrians.  Fiona used BBC micro bit technology and PIR motion sensors to create the system.  Her inspiration came in the early stages of COVID-19 when she was out walking and felt there had to be a better and safer way than pressing a pedestrian button at traffic lights.  

Fiona spoke about her win and said “I’m in shock but I feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in the NFTE programme. Over the last year, I've learned about enterprise and I’ve learned loads about myself and what I'm capable of. I've been able to channel my creativity in such a positive way to benefit my community during this challenging time. It’s a huge achievement and you know what,  I’m feeling very proud of myself!”

Séan Campbell, CEO of Foróige, said “We're so proud of the young entrepreneurs who have participated in the NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Programme this year. So much of what we do in this programme is about encouraging young people to be brave, take a leap of faith and back themselves and their abilities.  It’s remarkable for a teenager to start a business at any time, but to do it in the midst of a global pandemic is something quite extraordinary.  Even in our most uncertain times these young entrepreneurs are thriving, turning adversity into opportunity and turning their street smarts into business smarts. 

Seán continued “We have been incredibly fortunate to receive Dormant Accounts funding through the Department of Education and Skills; funding to develop a social enterprise module through the Department of Rural and Community Development and corporate support from basis.point,  JP Morgan and ActionCOACH to grow the Foróige NFTE programme. Over 5,000 young entrepreneurs took part this year making it the largest number ever to participate.” 


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