Students from Royal School Dungannon have been named Young Enterprise Northern Ireland Southern Company of the Year 2023.
Their business, Enlighten, created and sold a range of eco-friendly scented candles. They sold their range in school, online and at local shopping centres. The 17–18-year-old entrepreneurs started their business through the Young Enterprise Company Programme, competing against almost 80 student companies across Northern Ireland.
Young Enterprise chief executive, Carol Fitzsimons said: “The Company Programme again has shone light on the outstanding talent of Northern Ireland’s young entrepreneurs, and we are very proud of all the student companies and their achievements this year.
“It is crucial that we develop entrepreneurship skills in our young people and the Company Programme offers them the opportunity to do so with the support of experienced volunteer business advisers with the support of their teachers and peers.”
They were awarded the top prize at the Young Enterprise Awards 2023 at Belfast City Hall on Thursday 20th April where they were addressed by United States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs, Joe Kennedy III.
He commented: “Young Enterprise is all about equipping young people with the skills that they need in order to not just navigate a changing world, but to lead it. To be able to ask questions and find answers, cut through hard topics. Giving them the resilience and confidence, to know that this is not going to be an easy path, but it is a path worth taking.
“Northern Ireland is an incredibly bright and capable hands. The young people here are as talented, as motivated, and as driven as any anywhere across the globe. What I’m so excited to do in my role now is Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs for President Biden is to help champion these folks and shine a spotlight on them.
“The Belfast Good Friday Agreement was about creating peace and prosperity and stability for the people of Northern Ireland so that the next generation could have a brighter future and a brighter horizon. We are now 25 years after that historic day. It’s time for young people to take the lead.”
The Young Enterprise Company Programme provided entrepreneurship opportunities to around 800 young people in 2023 and is made possible by the support of Allstate Northern Ireland, EY Ireland, and Ulster University Business School while the charity is principally funded by the Department of Education.