Junior Entrepreneur Programme

The mission of Tweak is to democratize design and to make it easier for entrepreneurs across the world to have their businesses look great in print and digital. It’s no surprise then that this passion for entrepreneurship is reflected in Tweak’s corporate social responsibility activity.

Our founder, Jerry Kennelly, is a serial entrepreneur who started his career in the family newspaper publishing business. He’s been a mentor to hundreds of start-ups and along with his co-founders set up a number of not-for-profit organizations to support entrepreneurship in schools and colleges as well as an accelerator called Endeavour.

Tweak has been the lead sponsor for JEP (Junior Entrepreneur Programme) since it was founded in 2010. The programme facilitates middle school children aged eleven and twelve to learn about entrepreneurship, meet local entrepreneurs and creatively come up with their own individual ideas for classroom start-ups. The children then learn about their own skills and abilities and form teams for finance, marketing and sales. As local entrepreneurs help out with a ‘Dragons’ session, the children get to decide which of the thirty or so ideas they are going to focus on and create a market research program in their community. At this point, each child makes an investment in the classroom business and gets to work – just like a grown up startup.

JEP aims to give the bright young minds of Irish school children an opportunity to be creative and exercise their entrepreneurial aspirations. JEP has been involved in helping more than 50,000 school students in Ireland have the opportunity to experience practical business learning. The Programme lasts between 12 to 16 weeks during the school year and fits in seamlessly to the pre-existing school curriculum.

JEP has a significant impact on Irish society and community by involving more than 12,000 students across 450 different primary schools a year.

Under the guidance of the class teacher and with the help of local entrepreneurs, children can discover their creative strengths and work as part of a group. Schools can participate for free and work towards selecting and developing a product or service of their own and making it available for sale at a school-hosted JEP Showcase Day. In June of 2018, students had the opportunity to showcase their products in an All-Ireland Showcase Day at the Royal Dublin Society. This was a highly successful day, attended by more than 140 primary schools who gained information through workshops and awards.  

The key priorities for the members of the Programme board is for the children to gain real business experience, confidence and a reinforcement of the subjects already taught in schools. The Programme does not take additional time, outside the regular curriculum of the school and can be implemented into every single school subject and taught in conjunction with regular practical exercises.

Throughout the Programme the children to invest a small amount of money into developing their own product or service. In 2017, the children who took part earned more than €230,000 of profit, which the children used a group to fund school trips or divided among the class.

The Junior Entrepreneur Programme is privately funded and operates on a local basis by some of Ireland’s most successful and well-known entrepreneurs including Pallas Foods, Netwatch and ATA Group.

Corporate Social Responsibility - Junior Entrepreneur Programme

Programme Outline

The JEP layout is simple, easy to follow and can be molded to suit each particular school’s needs. The main events throughout the running of the Programme include the hosting of a ‘Meet the Dragons’ day, the School Showcase Day, the submission of a project folder and the RDS All-Ireland Showcase Day.

These events and milestones are easily marked through a provided Teacher’s Guide, which contains a full step-by-step guide to the entire Programme. All materials are given freely and are available in both Irish and English.

Generating Ideas

Idea generation is one of the lessons and steps in the entrepreneurial process that JEP hopes to convey to primary school students around Ireland. The Teacher’s Guide suggests asking the pupils to split into small groups and to think of some ideas for products or services.

When each group has a product, they can present it to class for further discussion.

Selecting One Idea

As a group, the children are invited to consider the benefits of one idea over another. With each idea, the children can weigh up which would generate the most sales and interest.

The children can practice critical core skills such as speaking in front of a group and the creativity of redrafting ideas until a successful project is chosen.

When the pupils have all agreed on a single idea, the students typically undertake some research in order to fine tune their idea into the best possible product or service it can be.

Meet the Dragons

The role of meeting the ‘Dragons’, or local entrepreneurs, is that they can be a sounding board for the students where they can ask questions and receive useful feedback to the ideas presented. Within the Teacher’s Guide is a Dragon’s Judging Form which can be used to help assess the practicality of each idea.

If the pupils are still struggling at this stage to settle on a single idea for the class group idea, then the Dragons can be used to help identify the most useful idea.

At this point, students can begin to fill out their project folder, which is to be submitted before the All-Ireland Showcase Day.

Entrepreneur Visit

The main objective of having a business person visit the classroom is to have the children practice their interviewing skills and learn about entrepreneurship through the eyes of an experienced and successful business person.

The children can present their idea to the business person and ask for feedback and suggested improvements and perfect their project.

Developing Roles and Additional Market Research

The next stage for the children is to conduct a level of market research through surveys and interviews, which aim to help them to decide if their project is financially viable.

Upon the decision that the idea is feasible or after necessary changes are made, the group can divide roles and responsibilities to include everyone.

Roles expanded upon on the Junior Entrepreneur website include establishing a sales team, finance team, marketing team and design and production team.

After this, development and production of the product or service is the primary priority of the children.

School Showcase Day

This is an important step for the pupils, who take this opportunity to set up a stand in their school and display their products for sale to the rest of the school.

It is with this that the students can establish the project’s overall profit or loss.

All-Ireland Showcase Day

For the first time ever, the Junior Entrepreneur Programme is offering a National Showcase Day in the RDS, Dublin.

This day will offer the students the chance to display their products and show the total profits they made and their journey.

The Junior Entrepreneur Programme and the Classroom

JEP strives to add to the regular primary school curriculum by seamlessly fitting into other practical classroom exercises.

The Junior Entrepreneur Programme can be incorporated into English lessons by focusing on the childrens’ oral presentation skills and the drafting of the JEP submissions folder which involves writing about the overall progress of the project on a weekly basis.

The children can also focus on mathematics through the calculations of the finance of the project and through the representation of the information relating to the project in graph format.

With the Irish language, the children can create classroom posters relating to the project in Irish and use them as part of a classroom display.

From a social standpoint, geography is the perfect subject to link with the childrens’ projects. Pupils can discuss the different roles of various members of the community and analyze how these people depend on each from a social and economic standpoint.

It can also be beneficial for science to discuss the project’s impact upon the environment by assessing the production of waste in developing the project. The class can work as a group to establish a recycling system in each classroom.

To find out more about the Junior Entrepreneur Programme, visit www.juniorentrepreneur.ie.