Coronavirus forces Northamptonshire finalists for school business competition to be chosen by judges online

Young Enterprise students created a variety of innovative products

By Jack Duggan
Wednesday, 15th April 2020, 2:50 pm

The best student businesses from across Northamptonshire in a schools competition have been chosen - after competing online rather than on stage due to coronavirus.

The Young Enterprise Company Programme area finalists came from Northampton School for Girls, Kingsthorpe College, Guilsborough School and two from Wellingborough School.

The annual showcase event at the University of Northampton was due to involve a face to face interview with judges, a presentation in front of an audience and a display of their products for sale on the night.

Team Hanabi from Kingsthorpe College with their trade stall at Swansgate Shopping Centre in Wellingborough in February. Photo: Young Enterprise

But because of Covid-19 restrictions, the judges received each of the company business plans, financial statements, pre-recorded presentations and photos of their trading stalls.

Young Enterprise area manager for East Midlands, Robin Neighbour, said: “It is a tough process for the students, who have to juggle their academic work with building a business.

“It is a great learning curve for them, and it is great to see the confidence they gain during the process and an understanding of how businesses work.

“This year it has been particularly hard for all the students as the pinnacle of the process, the showcase and the finals, has been taken away from them due to the Covid-19 situation.

Team Ember from Guilsborough School with their trade stall at Swansgate Shopping Centre in Wellingborough in February. Photo: Young Enterprise

"I’d like to thank the judges and the students for adapting to the alternative set up for this year and congratulations to them all for completing the year.

"I hope they have gained some valuable experience in the world of business, and we want to acknowledge that despite the challenges they’ve had in recent weeks, they’ve worked through.”

Thirteen schools and colleges from across the county took part in this year's Young Enterprise scheme, where students aged 15-18 set up and run their own company.

They make all the decisions about their business, from creating a product and company name to managing the company finances.

Team Empner from Wellingborough School with their trade stall at Swansgate Shopping Centre in Wellingborough in February. Photo: Young Enterprise

Students sell to the public with pop up stalls at trade fairs, shopping centres and via an online sales platform, Market Place, set up by the programme.

The finalists created a variety of innovative products: beeswax candles, books to empower young people, eco notebooks, handmade soap, and creative festoon lights.

At the showcase, additional awards were given for customer service, marketing, presentation, creativity, sustainability, teamwork and financial.

The five finalists will go on to the county final, due to take place later this month and again conducted online, with video feedback from the judges being delivered to all competitors.

Team Evocative from Wellingborough School with their trade stall at Swansgate Shopping Centre in Wellingborough in February. Photo: Young Enterprise

The winner will then go on to the regional finals in June, to decide who will compete at the national finals in the summer.

Team Bee Quintessential from Northampton School for Girls with their trade stall at Swansgate Shopping Centre in Wellingborough in February. Photo: Young Enterprise