Portlaoise children face a 'dragons den'

Maryborough NS pupils get down to business with Bizworld workshop

Portlaoise children face a 'dragons den'
By Lynda Kiernan lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

Maryborough NS in Portlaoise became a dragons den recently for fifth and sixth class pupils to pitch innovative ideas to investors.

A solar-powered aerodynamic ambulance, an invention hub to recycle waste, and a smoothie bar were among the ideas dreamed up by the budding entrepreneurs.

They had to each make their pitch to Dragons, Valerie Whittle, the school principal and Pauline Delaney of Bank of Ireland, sponsors of the two day Bizworld workshop.

The students had to interest the Dragons enough to invest 'bizbucks' in their companies.

Tutor Nadia Tavoileri split the children split into groups, so each could develop their own mini enterprise.

They were shown how to become business entrepreneurs, learning how to form a company and interview for jobs, and then designing, producing and marketing their business idea.

They also learned about doing market research with younger classes in the school.

The 5th class also learned about pitching for investment and then had to do it in real life.

Bizworld is a not-for-profit organization, chaired by Gavin Duffy, that promotes entrepreneurship skills for children at fifth class level.

It delivers simple free workshops where pupils learn about money management and enterprise in a supportive, creative atmosphere.

More than 200 schools around Ireland have hosted BizWorld programmes this year.

“Bizworld aims to address the lack of business education in primary schools and feed the students’ appetites for making commercial subject choices at second level,” said Bizworld CEO Fiona McKeon.

“We are reaching students at a stage when their enthusiasm is in abundance. Everybody gets a director’s role in the company that suits their personality and skills, from marketing to design, sales and finance,” she explained.

The idea is to help each child find their strengths and inspire them for the future.

“Our idea is not to produce products, simply to inspire and give children the confidence to say what is in their heads,” she said.

Among the ideas they have seen over the past few months, are a happy thoughts journal, a 50 cent tray for people who need a small amount of household essentials, gluten-free vending machines, a global warming awareness board game, a cycle safe indicator, a hair lice detection brush and a cattle break-out app.

To register a school for Bizworld, see bizworldireland.org.