Young Enterprise company Enlighten Hope have beaten off competition from 13 other student company finalists to be named Young Enterprise UK Company of the Year 2016. The exciting finale took place at the Emirates Stadium, where Enlighten Hope competed against companies from Scotland, Wales and England. It is the first time that a company from Northern Ireland has progressed this far in the competition in over 20 years.
The day kicked off with the first round of judging, where the company were interviewed by a panel of judges at their trade stand, while the second round of judging, another interview, took place later in the morning. The company had some time to rehearse before the main presentation in the afternoon, which they had to complete in front of all other schools, companies and business advisors, as the final stage of judging. They were selected as 1 of 5 companies who were asked to present again at the evening award ceremony that was hosted by Steph McGovern and Ben Towers.
The student company Enlighten Hope have written and illustrated a series of three short stories that deal with the side effects of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a child friendly way. They have expanded their product internationally – visiting publishers in Dublin and New York, and securing a deal to sell the books on the Amazon Kindle Store. This group of determined young entrepreneurs even took it upon themselves to purchase an ISBN for their products. They recently secured a deal with Libraries NI to stock the books in six libraries across Northern Ireland. The books can be borrowed from Belfast Central, Coleraine, Derry Central, Dungannon, Enniskillen and Portadown Libraries for free and can be requested through any public library in Northern Ireland. During the Young Enterprise Company Programme, the team were mentored along the way by 2 business advisors from HSBC, who offered their wealth of business experience to the company.
Enlighten Hope’s Managing Director, Iveta Liovinaite, said: “It has been such a privilege to participate in the Young Enterprise Company Programme this year. As Managing Director of Enlighten Hope I speak on behalf of the team when I say that this has been a life changing experience for us all. We are more assured than ever that ‘Learning by Doing’ really is the best means of education. Our personal development in terms of business acumen, confidence, ability and self-belief has surpassed our wildest dreams. We want to thank the organisers of Young Enterprise for providing us with the opportunity to become more educated, independent and organised as individuals and team players.”
Carol Fitzsimons, CEO of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland commented: “Enlighten Hope are truly an inspirational group of young people. Their Company programme journey began with us in September and their passion, work ethic and determination to succeed has impressed throughout. They are a shining example of the workplace skills and confidence developed by young people through participation in our Company programme, and highlight how important it is that every child in Northern Ireland should get this opportunity.”
Check out the photos from the event here.
Photo credit: Will Amlot Photography