The NFTE Youth Entrepreneur Awards are always a highlight of the year. Recreating the excitement generated by the battle of Ireland’s future leading youth entrepreneurs for the crown of Youth Entrepreneur, under Covid-19 restrictions, was a new challenge for Foróige. They were not to disappoint. Over 4,000 young people and 120 Schools and Youth Projects right across the country took part throughout the year, with over 90% completing the programme.
The NFTE Awards are a highlight of the Foróige year, the top youth driven businesses in the country, are invited to present their achievements to an expert panel of judges. This years’ finalists had more to contend with than usual, having to convince the panel of judges of the viability of their written business plans, with the winners having the opportunity to present via Zoom.
Having progressed through tough regional competitions, the standard was always going to be impressive. The “Can Do” attitude instilled in young people through the programme, stands them in good stead. Against all odds, the nine finalists in each category managed to pull together their business plans and excel in their powers of persuasion and creativity.
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. A passion for music and sustainability is at the core of his business, and his empassioned presentation included a live demonstration of the bodhrán.
The idea for his business was first rooted when leaving primary school. He wanted to give his teacher a personalised present – a bodhrán stick with a message from Joseph on it. His father taught him the necessary woodwork skills and his interest sparked from there.
JM Woodwork and Personalised Engraving offers bodhrán sticks which can be customised by the type of wood and engraving. Joseph’s vision is to provide his customers with a high quality, hand turned, individualised and unique stick.
basis.point involvement with Foróige first started three years ago. A growing number of our Patron companies were based in Cork and we set about looking for a programme that would support young people experiencing disadvantage and adversity within the Cork community. The NFTE programme with Foróige was an ideal fit and thanks to our additional funding the programme was rolled out to serve the Cork city and wider county.
One of the schools participating with the programme is the Cork Life Centre, a school like no other for extremely vulnerable children for whom mainstream education simply doesn’t work and the system has simply given up on. We were particularly excited to see young Jessie, from the Cork Life Centre, progressing through the rounds and ultimately triumphing.
Jessica Griffin, aged 18, from the Cork Life Centre, was the winner of the Foróige Innovator of the Year 2020 with her business, Jessie GH Designs ‘One Piece Missing’.
‘One Piece Missing’ is a Real-Life Comic Series to educate people about what it is like to live with Asperger’s. Jessica herself, was diagnosed with Asperger’s as a child. She wanted to create a comic book series to make Autism easier to understand. Growing up, there were no role models in books or in the media, that reflected Jessica’s life and so ‘One Piece Missing’ was born.
Her goal with the ‘One Piece Missing’ Comic Series is to provide knowledge, comfort and support to people living with Autism. Jessica hopes that the comic will help other children better understand the condition, whilst also help parents to introduce their children to the fact that it is ok to be who they are and that support is always there, no matter what their struggle.
Chairperson, Clive Bellows, founding Board Member, Eimear Cowhey and Volunteer, Geraldine Gleeson, represented basis.point on the two judging panels.
After the event, Eimear commented on her online judging experience, “Congratulations to Joseph and Jessie. I had the honour of being on a Zoom call with Jessie and her parents and teacher when she heard the good news. It was a joy to hear and see her delight.”
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”.
Joseph and Jessica will have the thrilling opportunity to represent Ireland at the European Youth Entrepreneur Awards in Vienna in 2021.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Programmes (NFTE) is a cutting edge, world recognised, youth entrepreneurship education and development programme for young people experiencing disadvantage and adversity in their lives. Funding from basis.point is essential to its continued success.
Against the backdrop of the global pandemic, we could do well to take our lead from these inspirational young people.