Date: 12 April 2012
The future of New Zealand business is looking strong judging by the energy and calibre of the budding entrepreneurs who attended last week’s Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) Enterprise Day (E Day).
Over 230 senior high school students attended the intensive day on Friday 11 February, designed to better equip them to begin the journey of setting up their own enterprises. Canterbury was the first region to launch the 2011 national YES programme, where students form a company, become directors, develop products and services they have to market and sell.
The highlight of the day, sponsored and hosted by the College of Business and Economics at University of Canterbury, was speed networking with experienced and successful business people. While each student group only spent a short time with a mentor, it was a dynamic, fast paced meeting where ideas and concepts were bounced around, discarded, reformed and refined. The student feedback was unanimously positive about the opportunity to tap into the voice of business experience. Among the volunteer business mentors was New Zealand Credit Union Chairman, Bevan Killick.
“The energy, motivation and ideas the students have is so exciting.” In addition to helping multiple groups of students at the E Day, Killick has agreed to act as an on-going mentor for a team from St Thomas of Canterbury College. This is his second year working with student entrepreneurs.
“The programme is an amazing learning curve for the students but it also challenges me as well. The thought processes of these budding business leaders is so different from my own and to get inside their minds and then be able to apply some of their ideas and thought processes to my own business makes me a winner as well,” Killick adds.
The Enterprise New Zealand Trust YES programme is delivered in Canterbury by CORE Education and Regional Coordinator, Juanita Reddish says the E Day created an astronomical buzz.
“The students and the teachers involved were blown away by the support and ideas the local business people brought to the day.” She says that many, like Killick, will go on to provide year long mentoring. “They will act as a sounding board for the students and help steer them in the right direction.”
The next step in the process is for the students to develop a business plan, and assign positions to each team member and then begin to implement their business strategies. The programme will teach them financial management, leadership, marketing and sales, communications, human resources and production. Students invest real money, produce real products, pay real taxes and keep the real profits. Fundamentally, this scheme allows students to run a real business within the safe environment of support and formal structure. For students, YES is a great opportunity to realise their uniqueness, develop their strengths, work together as a team and possibly make a profit at the same time. Like any other team event, YES is about working towards goals and taking all the steps necessary to achieve them.
In addition, the business plans and presentations by the student entrepreneurs are entered into a national competition. Last year Canterbury teams did exceptionally well with three groups of students taking four major prizes. Oceanic Fusion from St Thomas of Canterbury College was the National overall winner and recipients of the Pacifica award. Fernza, the Rangi Ruru Girls team took the National Sales and Marketing award. They are now a registered a company with the profits from their Kiwi Pavlova chocolate supporting the girls through University. My Security, from Boys High School won the National Service award.