Junior Entrepreneur Program Showcase Day

One of my favourite events of the annual calendar is the JEP (Junior Entrepreneur Programme) County Showcase day. Aspire has proudly run the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) in Co. Wicklow for the last 3 years.

JEP is a unique programme, which has national alumni of 26,500 children (1,100 in County Wicklow), who have created entrepreneurial businesses in their classrooms in Ireland.

Every child proposes an idea and one is selected as the class business using a “Dragons Den”, which is supported by local businesses in the community.

During the 12-16 week programme, each child invests a small amount of capital in the business and receives their share of the profits. Typically the profits are used for school tours, donations to charity etc. It’s not just a real business plan, but a real business conceived from scratch with real products and services and real customers who pay for what is produced.

It all came together this year at the JEP County Showcase Day, on 25th May in Roundwood, County Wicklow.

This year, the popularity of the programme has accelerated and Milner Browne has partnered with Aspire, to deliver the programme to an impressive 20 national school classes in County Wicklow.

During the JEP Programme, every child is given the chance to excel, as they work in teams, using their creativity and other skills in ways that classroom subjects may not explore.

Teachers incorporate the business into their classroom subjects, which improves the children’s learning.

The teams learn all the aspects of a real business, ranging from Innovation, turning ideas into reality, Storytelling, Production, Marketing and Finance.

The kids work in teams to deliver on all of these aspects. A local business normally visits the school during the project and the questions that emerge are sometimes mind-boggling. As with any business, there are bumps in the road and plenty of learning curves, but the young people are empowered to figure out solutions and resolve things themselves.

The Junior Entrepreneur Programme is open to 5th and 6th class, or 4th, 5th and 6th where classes are amalgamated.

The County Showcase represents the end of the programme and the start of the journey!

On 25th May nearly 500 kids and 70 local adults converged into Roundwood to showcase their projects. The Aspire team on site that morning included Aoife Boyle, Michelle Jones, Therese Keville, Martin Connolly & Dan O’Brien. Thanks, lads. A large team from Milner Brown consisted of Morgan Brown, Richard Brown, Shane Webb and others.

Wicklow Ladies Football team also helped out on the day. Thanks ladies for giving your time to this great cause.

Aspire is passionate about this programme. Aspire believes that our country, and in particular rural counties, need to encourage the development of small businesses and indigenous industry. JEP provides a practical taste of real-world experience. The energy produced in the classrooms during this programme is incredible and the confidence and curiosity it instils in the pupils is amazing.

We in Aspire are privileged and proud to sponsor this programme in my adopted County.

Special thanks to Aoife Boyle

Hopefully Aspire and Milner Brown will have inspired a few young Wicklow children to dream big and believe that someday they can build up a small or large business in an area they love.

Bill Walsh