The Youth Entrepreneur of the Year competition is a highlight of the Foróige year where the Top nine youth-driven businesses in the country, who have participated in the NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Programme, are invited to present their achievements to an expert panel of Judges. The competition took place online this year with young people taking part in both regional and semi-final competitions to be selected as a finalist.
This year featured some of the most creative and inspirational work this competition has seen.
Seán Campbell, CEO Foróige said “The NFTE Programme changes the lives of young people by enabling them to develop core skills in business and enterprise, and in doing so, helping them to unlock their individual talents and potential. It puts the career path of 'entrepreneur' firmly in the sights of the young participants and gives them an 'I can and I will' attitude that is quite remarkable. This attitude has enabled these young people to persevere through the past few turbulent months, to continue with the programme and to develop their impressive businesses.
With nine finalists competing for Foróige Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2020, three hailed from County Donegal with the six other finalists from across the country.
Competing for the title was Molly Boyd, aged 16, from Scoil Mhuire in Buncrana, Co Donegal with Inishowen Pens. Molly has created one of a kind wooden pens and personalised pen clips, a unique gift from Inishowen. Inishowen Pens prides itself in being environmentally friendly using only recycled wood sourced in Inishowen.
Emily Mc Nulty, Savanna Timony and Onagh McHugh from Abbey Vocational School, in Donegal Town were among the finalists with their product Bee Fresh. Bee Fresh are reusable beeswax wraps which are a sustainable alternative to cling film and tinfoil. The three youths have stated the mission for their company is to encourage individuals to cut down on single-use plastic waste.
Amy McGonigle aged 16 from Carndonagh Community School, Co Donegal was also in the running for this year’s Foróige Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 with her business, Twelve Months of Irish Traditions and Superstitions. Amy, with the help of her 89-year-old grandfather, created a 56-page booklet comprising Twelve Month of Irish Traditions and Superstitions gathered locally. Not just a business venture, this book serves as a great read, a great gift and more importantly a great preservation of our past. With all proceeds being donated to local charities.
Shane Gettings is the proud owner of Getting Eggs, based in Granard, Co. Longford. Sustainable and environmentally friendly farm which provides high-quality eggs to the local community. As a sole trader, Shane is responsible for every aspect of the business which is driven by his passion and commitment for providing a high-quality product in his local area.
April Walsh from Duiske College, Co. Kilkenny, is behind Artistic Adventures. Artistic Adventures is a range of fun and original colouring and stationery products, each style carefully designed by designer and owner April Walsh. In a generation that is leaning more toward technology every day, Artistic Adventures aims to “bring back some good old fashion fun”.
Wiktoria Zebrowoska and Eimear Feeney from St Clare’s Comprehensive School, in Manorhamilton. Co. Leitrim competed with their business Soaptazia. The youths created unique handcrafted SLS FREE soap bars with vivid and distinct scents.
Sarah Kind from Scoil Úi Mhuíri, Dunleer, Co. Louth entered the competition with Kingwood Craft. Kingwood Craft are hand-painted, bespoke and festive wood Christmas decorations made by Sarah Kind for her customers.
Amber and Hazel Doyle, twins from Portlaoise, are the joint owners of Amber and Hazel Handmade Pots. The twins design high-quality decorative flower pots using recycled materials to enhance customers' environment. Their pots are handcrafted with care from scratch, upcycling old materials and creating a unique product.
Joseph Mannion, aged 15, from Dungarvan, Co. Waterford took the title of Foróige Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2020, for his business JM Woodwork and Personalised Engraving, which offers personalised bodhrán sticks which can be customised by the type of wood and engraving. Joseph’s vision for JM woodwork is to provide his customers with a high quality, hand turned, individualised and unique stick.
Eva Loughridge and Anna Harris from Royal and Prior Comprehensive School, Raphoe, Co Donegal, were among the nine finalists for Foróige Innovator of the Year 2020. Their business, Duck and Co, is a wooden duck utensil which enables the steam to release from a pot. Their mission statement is to solve an everyday problem while being sustainable and aesthetically pleasing.
The east of the country was also well represented this year with eight Leinster finalists in the running.
Catie Byrne, aged 15, from St.Dominic's College, Ballyfermot entered with her business Caties Scrunchies. Catie's Handmade Scrunchies, inspired by her mother’s love of upcycling and desire to be environmentally conscious, sources materials for the scrunchies from old clothing to avoid contributing to “fast fashion”.
Eimear Ryan from Duiske College, Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny competed for the Innovator title with her idea, Choose Your Path. Choose Your Path is a business dedicated to writing ‘choose your own path’ books. Using her passion for reading and writing, Eimear has developed characters and stories suitable for teenagers to encourage them to read more. The first book is called Bubble and is currently available in bookstores in Kilkenny.
Julie Tran Nguyen is the owner of Resin Inspired. Julie from Coláiste Bríde, Clondalkin, Dublin, has created bespoke handmade resin jewellery. Each piece is personally crafted by Julie Tran Nguyen who used Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to develop a new skill in jewellery making.
Patrick D’Arcy, aged 16 from Castlepollard Community College, Westmeath, is the mastermind behind The Wide Awake. The product is a sleek lightweight device; which emits an intermittent low-frequency sound and parental instruction in response to a fire alarm alert to wake a child and aid escape from the home in the event of a fire.
ISCOPE, which is run by Oisin O’Neill, aged 16 from Leitrim competed for the title with his idea of an Enhanced Digital Stethoscope for Remote Auscultation. An enhanced Digital Stethoscope that allows you to record and save sounds directly from the stethoscope using a smartphone/iPad and a specifically designed companion app.
There was one school that shone particularly bright this year, with three of the finalists all attending the same school in Co. Leitrim, two competing for the Innovator of the Year.
Gearoid O'Hagan, Cian Treanor and Shea Kelly from St. Clare’s Comprehensive School, in Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim competed for this year’s Innovator title with their business SES. SES (‘Source Enhance Sustain’) makes various handmade and unique timber products. The youths aim to only use unwanted timber/old car parts that will only be thrown away or burnt.
Finally, there was Elle McMorrow and Aine McLoughlin, aged 13 and 14 also from St. Clare’s Comprehensive School, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim are the proud owners of Book Worms. Book Worms is a thumb book holder in different sizes and colours. Their business aims to help book worms like themselves keep pages in a book or magazine held wide open for a more enjoyable reading experience. Book Worms was among the finalists for the Foróige Innovator of the Year 2020.
Jessica Griffin, aged 18, from the Cork Life Centre in Cork, was the winner of the Foróige Innovator of the Year 2020 with her business, Jessie GH Designs ‘One Piece Missing’, her real-life comic series to create understanding about what it’s like to have Asperger’s.
The winners of both The Foróige Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 and The Foróige Innovator of the Year 2020 were announced via Zoom in April.
The winning groups will have the thrilling opportunity to represent Ireland at the European Youth Entrepreneur Awards in Vienna in 2021.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Programme is a world recognised, youth entrepreneurship education and development programme, provided by Foróige in Ireland. It is affiliated to NFTE International.