Junior entrepreneurs encouraged to start real businesses in the classroom

Primary schools have one week to sign up classes to take part in this year’s programme

The Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) runs over a 12 to 16 week period during the school year and gives primary school pupils the opportunity to experience practical, real-life business learning as part of their curriculum.

 

A few years ago entrepreneur and multimillionaire Jerry Kennelly had the bright idea of using the school classroom to help nurture the business people of tomorrow.

He had worked with students in colleges and second level. But it was in primary schools where he saw the idea really begin to take off.

“There’s a real energy in a primary school classroom,” says Kennelly, cofounder of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme, a not-for-profit initiative.

“Eleven- and 12-year-olds haven’t been impacted by the points race. They’re open, creative and quick to learn. It’s really uplifting to see that eureka moment for them.”

Since it was founded in 2010, the programme has given more than 50,000 primary school pupils the opportunity to experience practical, real-life business learning as part of their formative education.

A primary school pupil from Athy, Co Kildare, present her entry in last year’s Junior Entrepreneur Programme. Photograph: Jerry Kennelly/JEP
A primary school pupil from Athy, Co Kildare, present her entry in last year’s Junior Entrepreneur Programme. Photograph: Jerry Kennelly/JEP

Last year alone, some 12,000 children achieved sales of €220,000 and net profit of €140,000, based on investment worth just a few euro in each school.

This year, the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) has launched its 2019 recruitment programme, inviting primary schools across the island to participate in its entrepreneurship programme.

Everyday problems

The programme centres around primary schoolchildren in fifth and sixth class learning about entrepreneurship and launching classroom businesses. The businesses range from clocks to games to books and solutions for everyday problems.

“The funds belong to the children and the use of those funds is set by the children themselves,” says Kennelly, founder of Tweak. com, which underwrites the JEP programme.

“It’s usually a combination of returning investment and profit to the children, charitable contributions and class treats.”

The programme, says Kennelly, gives children an extra chance to learn about the real world before they’ve got to make decisions about what to study in second level.

Primary school pupils from Cullina National School in Beaufort, Co Kerry, present their entry in last year’s Junior Entrepreneur Programme. Photograph: Jerry Kennelly/JEP
Primary school pupils from Cullina National School in Beaufort, Co Kerry, present their entry in last year’s Junior Entrepreneur Programme. Photograph: Jerry Kennelly/JEP

“It gives children the opportunity to do something for themselves, to invest their money and get back profit they’ve made themselves. Along the way they learn the importance of entrepreneurs in their community and find out what they’re good at,” he says.

Nurture creativity

The programme seeks to nurture creativity, independence and problem solving.

It runs over a 12 to 16-week period during the school year and is designed to ensure it blends with the primary school curriculum.

In addition, local entrepreneurs are invited to visit the participating classrooms and tell the story of their business.

“Every child produces a business idea and entrepreneurs are invited to participate in a ‘Dragons-style’ session where they are helped with selecting one final idea for the class to pursue,” he says.

Kennelly says that under their teacher’s guidance, children discover their strengths as individuals and as part of a team.

“Together, they’ll choose, invest in and produce their own product or service from scratch, all the way to making it available for sale at a school-hosted JEP showcase day – and enjoying the profits at the end.”

* Classes can sign up for JEP 2019 until Friday, September 28th, 2018. For furtherinformation, visit: www.juniorentrepreneur.ie