"Brace Yourself" is the winning business at Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2014

Foróige-Notinuse's picture
Foróige-Notinuse May 12, 2014

Foróige Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

  • 1,500 participants generate €250k turnover in Foróige Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Programme this year

  • Programme turns smart ideas into business realities

Five teenage business women from Sligo are bracing themselves for success after being crowned the winners of the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2014, organised and run by Foróige, for their business ‘Brace Yourself’.

The group were amongst the 1,500 participants from low income communities who set up 600 businesses as part of this year’s Foróige NFTE entrepreneurship programme, generating a collective turnover of €250,000.   

The Mercy College, Sligo students Rianne Keaveney (16), Róisín Shaw (15) Sinead Fitzsimons (15), Sinead D’Arcy (16) and Samantha Scanlon (16) won the award for their business ‘Brace Yourself’ which manufactures a handy tool to aid people fasten bracelets and zips with ease.

“I came up with the idea after watching my grandmother struggling to close a bracelet. She has no power in one of her hands and I thought if we could make a hook it would make her life a little easier,” said Rianne Keaveney. 

Market research carried out by the group found that more than 40,000 people in Ireland suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

“Our original target market was for people with mobility issues but then we felt that the bracelet helper is a handy tool for men and women of all ages as it multifunctional and can also be used as a zip fastener or can opener. We also feel men could purchase our product for their female relatives and friends,” continued Rianne.

Working with a local manufacturer in Sligo, the group developed a prototype of the hook. However, the initial design was not as efficient as they would have liked, so they developed a second version with longer hooks which they felt worked a lot better.

“Our design is unique, there is nothing like it on the market. It is also the only such product made and sold in Ireland, and therefore we are creating jobs in Ireland and Sligo,” continued Rianne.

The ‘Brace Yourself’ products are now being stocked in selected pharmacies in Cork and Sligo and cost €2 each. The girls marketed their products through word of mouth, Facebook and through press releases in their local papers.

To date, the girls have sold more than 500 bracelets, generating an income of more than €1,000. All the profits from the sales of their first 1,000 bracelet hooks are going to Tanzania.

Commenting on their win, “Our involvement in the Foróige NFTE progamme and our experience in setting up our business has taught us so many invaluable skills, such as working as a team, communication skills and making deadlines. We loved the whole experience,” said Rianne.

The girls will now go on the represent Ireland at the European Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards taking place in Vienna later this year.

Maria Doherty, Foróige NFTE Programme Manager said: “Entrepreneurial skills are more important today than ever in the current economic climate. The young people who participate are gaining invaluable skills and experience in business. They are well able to spot a business opportunity and run with it. They are fantastic ambassadors of youth entrepreneurship – I’ve no doubt that they will go on to become successful business people in the future.”

Judging Panel

The overall winner was chosen by an expert judging panel including Hugo McNeill, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Ireland; Tina Roche CEO of Business in The Community; Fergal Brophy, Founder and Director of Open Financial Services Ltd and Joe Redmond, Group Executive of Fexco. Eight finalists made an elevator pitch to the judges ala Dragon’s Den style for the top prize.


For further information please contact:

Cathy Gray, Foróige Marketing Communications Officer

086 807 5332 / 01 630 1732


About Foróige

Foróige is the leading and largest youth organisation in Ireland. The charity works with 54,000 young people and 5,500 adult volunteers annually, through a network of more than 600 youth clubs & cafés, 150 targeted projects and national programmes such as Entrepreneurship (NFTE),  Citizenship and Entrepreneurship.  

About the Foróige Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE):

The NFTE programme was founded by US businessman Steve Mariotti in New York in 1987 to prevent at risk young people from low-income communities from ‘dropping out’ of the education system.  

As part of the Foróige NFTE programme, young people study all aspects of starting and successfully running a business including idea generation, goal setting, customer services, marketing, book keeping, presentation skills, communication skills and social responsibility. They also engage with suppliers and work with business mentors. The programme also helps young people to build self-confidence and interpersonal skills, increase their prospects for employment and foster career and college aspirations to encourage school completion. The programme runs from September to May every year.

Research carried out by NFTE in Berlin among 3,600 young people who participated in the programme found that 70% of all participants have found a job, either as an employee or an entrepreneur.  The research also shows that each NFTE entrepreneur in turn employs an average of 3.5 people.