By ROSALIND GRIFFITHS
Budding entrepreneurs from Brae High School won this year’s Young Enterprise Shetland Awards which were presented at the museum last Thursday night. They will go on to represent Shetland in the Scottish final in Glasgow next month.
The nine S5 and S6 pupils set up and ran their own company, Zenith, for a year, producing a children’s activity pack called Ozzy the Otter. It contains a book of line drawings with colouring pens and a CD based on cartoon characters of Shetland mammals and birds – including an otter, a seal and a puffin – speaking in Shetland dialect. There is an English translation.
The stories have a moral message, such as standing up to bullies or helping each other, and are aimed at lower primary-age children and young families. All the artwork and materials were created at Brae High School.
Zenith financed the project themselves and have already made £2,250 from sales of 325 packs and copy licences to several primary schools. The business has just gone into profit, after paying for the printing.
The pack is still available in local book and gift shops and on line at www.ozzytheotter.co.uk The Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) company programme offers practical experience to pupils aged 15 to 19 in running a company over one year, with the support of a teacher and volunteer business advisers from the local community.
As well as teaching skills in the key areas of finance, marketing, manufacturing and administration, the programme also seeks to encourage innovation, creativity and a can-do attitude among young people.
The young people elect a board of directors, raise share capital, market and finance a product or service of their own choice. At the end of the year they liquidate their company and present their report and accounts.
Zenith managing director Chris Erwood, who will be heading to Glasgow University shortly to study aerospace engineering, said the group had very much enjoyed the project. “It’s been a lot of fun but very hard work. In addition to my sixth-year stuff it was sometimes the straw that broke the camel’s back. But it’s quite a sense of achievement. As time went on we became a really good group and we had to work really hard to get the books published by Christmas – we eventually got it done by 23rd December.” Zenith’s link teacher for the year was physics teacher Michael Batty. He said a great deal of thought had gone into the stories, and it had been good to see the pupils’ outlook develop throughout the year. “The young people really came together as a team, sometimes working through the night to meet the Christmas deadline. They were determined to do well and their hard work has paid off.”
Business adviser Neil Pearson said: “The group were fantastic, I’m really proud of what they achieved. It’s phenomenal to see such talent coming out of Brae High School, fingers crossed for the Scottish finals.”
The judging was based on a business report which each company produced along with a business presentation at the award ceremony, highlighting the successes and challenges of the company during their YES year. They also had to take part in a question and answer session and produce a display stand.
The other companies competing for the Shetland award were both from Anderson High School – Spangfit, who produced a booklet and wall chart diary on fitness, and Agito, who produced a fitness pack. A fourth company, Jeunes Amis, had to withdraw.
Chairwoman of the Shetland area board of Young Enterprise Scotland Sue Beer said: “The standard of work, energy and enthusiasm put in by the students was most impressive and a credit to Shetland. It offers us a solid future for Shetland as there are so many entrepreneurial young people about.”
She said she was grateful to Busta House Hotel for gifting a dinner to all the young participants, and to the local businesses, SIC and Charitable Trust for their funding of on-going expenses, such as Zenith’s forthcoming trip to Glasgow.
If the team should be successful in the Scottish final, which comprises 12 regions, they could then go on to the UK final in London culminating in the European final in the summer.