Art students from Clounagh Junior High School launched a new three-year sponsorship between Young Enterprise and Ulster Bank by showcasing their entrepreneurial skills at the Bank’s Portadown branch.
The year 9 and 10 pupils operate a 24-strong production and retail company called Handcrafted with Love and recently won Best Overall QuickStart Company at Young Enterprise’s Southern Area Trade Fair. The enterprising pupils set up a pop-up sales stand at the branch and successfully marketed their range of ceramic vases, brooches, home decorations and framed verses to customers and staff.
Ulster Bank has backed Young Enterprise’s QuickStart initiative since it was piloted six years ago, and through its support the enterprise programme has developed and expanded and currently involves 2000 young people each academic year from schools and community groups across Northern Ireland.
Jill Smyth, Community Programmes Manager at Ulster Bank said: “Ulster Bank is delighted to continue its support for Young Enterprise’s QuickStart programme. It offers a great opportunity for young people to learn about business and entrepreneurship, build on teamwork and presentation skills and develop confidence through working with each other the public.
“Working alongside Young Enterprise’s QuickStart initiative for several years we have seen the long- term impact of this and other Young Enterprise programmes as young people take forward their business ideas following school and college. Some of the entrepreneurs at the Ulster Bank-powered Entrepreneurial Spark Hub started on their business journeys through Young Enterprise and it’s wonderful to see business skills flourishing across Northern Ireland.”
Part of a portfolio of Young Enterprise business programmes which includes Company, Team and Business Beginnings, QuickStart sees young people develop and design a marketable product and business plan over a ten week period with the support and guidance of a Young Enterprise business volunteer.
Clounagh’s fledgling Handcrafted with Love business joined the QuickStart programme in September 2016 and to date has generated almost £1000 in profit from sales at the school Carol Service and the Rushmere Centre Young Enterprise regional trade fair. The creative small business was founded by school Art Club members and becoming part of QuickStart has helped the team build on their success and look at new ways of increasing the business.
Clounagh Year 10 student and business product developer Sarah McQueen (14) underlined the impact of QuickStart: “I found following the QuickStart programme as part of our Art Club beneficial and educational for the future. It gave me the opportunity to develop my ideas and create a range of products which I am considering selling in my mum’s coffee shop.”
Clounagh Head of Art & Design Kate McGurk outlined the benefits of QuickStart: “As part of our after-school Art club it was lovely to see the pupils take their ideas, develop them and realise a final product. Pupils of different ages and various abilities collaborated to produce a lovely range of craft products fit for sale to the public. Since its launch ‘Handcrafted with Love’ has proved hugely popular with customers of all ages.”
Carol Fitzsimons MBE, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise added: “We are delighted to partner with Ulster Bank for the next three years to support our QuickStart Programme. QuickStart is a fantastic way for the students to gain first-hand experience of how business works while developing their entrepreneurship and employability skills.
“This academic year, we had some our highest numbers to date, engaging 46 schools and community groups across Northern Ireland, with a total of 2,208 young people taking part in the programme. The support of Ulster Bank has been vital to the work of the charity for the delivery of our QuickStart Programme and we look forward to working with them over the next few years.”