Young Entrepreneurs Club at Blanchardstown Library
This is one of my favourite times of the year at Blanchardstown Library. There’s glitter and tinsel everywhere as our talented Young Entrepreneurs are busy putting the final touches to their products in preparation for the Christmas Market Day. This year, we will have a wide range of Christmas decorations for sale on market day with everything from wreaths, table centrepieces, tree decorations and ‘naughty or nice’ chalk boards among the many products on offer.
Market day might be the highlight of the Young Entrepreneurs Club calendar but it is really the culmination of weeks of hard work and learning at the club that started back in early October. The Young Entrepreneurs Club has been one of the great success stories of Fingal Libraries and is currently in its fourth iteration. The success of the club was recognised earlier this year when it was shortlisted for a prize at the Business Excellence and CSR Awards alongside competition such as Dublin Airport, eBay and Fujitsu.
In April of this year, Librarian and Europe Direct Manager Siobhan Walshe and Senior Library Assistant and Europe Direct Assistant Co-ordinator Barry O’Carroll gave a presentation on the activities of the club at the LAI/CILIP Conference at Killashee House. The presentation was well received with several other library authorities expressing interest in running their own Young Entrepreneurs Club.
So how did the Young Entrepreneurs Club come to be? Siobhan Walshe explains:
“In June 2017 I first started to think about how we could awaken an interest in and involve primary school children in the world of business, enterprise and entrepreneurship. With this in mind, we decided to look for a facilitator who would be able to create and deliver a programme for 10, 11 and 12 year old children. I approached Serena Bryans who works as the Student Enterprise Coordinator of the Student Enterprise Programme across various counties over the last 10 years. Serena is herself an entrepreneur having been at the helm of 4 SMEs in the last 25 years.
During a couple of planning meetings we decided that the overall aim of the programme is to give each of the participants a real experience of developing, organising and managing a business. Giving 10, 11 and 12 year olds this type of access and opportunity also enables them to make informed choices about their future careers by giving them real life experiences of what it would be like to be an entrepreneur.
In summary what the students learn are real business skills, the ability to conduct market research, work as a member of a team, design a product, advertise and then sell their product at a market day event. They also get the opportunity to reflect on this programme and assess what its impact has been on them and what they have learnt about their own participation in the programme.
The club is part of the Europe Direct Information Centre programme and is sponsored by the European Commission Representation in Ireland.”
Throughout the eleven weeks, the participants hone a number of skills including: critical thinking, team building, resilience, sales skills, customer care, creativity and problem solving. They do this by setting up real companies that carry out market research before designing and bringing their product to market. Each member of the company has a specific role such as ‘marketing director’ or ‘financial controller’. The best part (according to the participants) is that they get to keep their profits!
So what actually happens at the club each week? Each week has a different focus and topic. In the first few weeks, the participants learn about how a company works. They then move on to thinking about the product they wish to sell. This involves market research and designing a prototype. Once the product has been decided on, production begins. The highlight of the club calendar is market day when each company sells their product. In the final week, the participants receive their certificates. There is particular excitement this year as the Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Eoghan O'Brien will be presenting this year.
The Young Entrepreneurs Market Day was held in Blanchardstown Library on Thursday 5th December and it was a huge success. This was the culmination of weeks of hard work and learning which resulted in beautiful Christmas decorations.
By Barry O’Carroll, Fingal Libraries