A group of young people from Stormont House School, which caters for students with special educational needs, have learned what it takes to be successful entrepreneurs. The 16 and 17 year-olds put their enterprise learning into practice by running a Christmas stall at Dalston’s Eastern Curve Garden, selling a range of loom bands and Christmas cards they produced themselves.
With funding from Business in the Community, Inspire! ran the Enterprise Project over a 10-week period. Business volunteers drawn from a variety of organisations, including Linklaters, Peabody and Bootstrap Company, supported the workshops. Activities covered everything from the concept of enterprise, product design and marketing to finance and selling. The students also went on visits to Bootstrap and Hackney City Farm to see how different social enterprises operate.
It all came together at the Christmas market where young people handed out the flyers they produced to passers-by whilst, inside the Curve Garden, others were busy selling, totting up the sales totals and working out how much change to give.
“I made some of the loom bands and I enjoyed that most as it was the first time I have ever made them,” said a proud Edward Kearney.” One of the other students, Brandon Graham, explained his role. “I’ve been designing cards, helping out and coming with offers to attract customers. We also visited other businesses to get good ideas. I’ve learned how to help run a business and communicate with other people.
This is the first year that Stormont House has accepted students in Year 12 as a first step to setting up sixth form provision. As such, the enterprise project has been a pilot. Head of Sixth Form, Bel Waters, says it has been of enormous benefit for the young people involved. “They came up with some great ideas for products but wanted to choose ones that they felt the general public wanted. For these students, it’s about them being able to create something they can sell and how to work with each other, as well as interact with members of the public”.
Sarah McIIven, who led the project at Inspire! said: “The students have worked really hard. At Bootstrap they were assigned different job roles and had to interview some of our business volunteers about their jobs, and at Hackney City Farm we looked at various parts of their business including the farm itself, the café and a bicycle repair operation. The final part of the whole programme, after today, will be to evaluate what they have learned and how the project might be carried forward in school.”
Total sales generated by the Christmas stall were around £145 with profits being ploughed back into other similar projects in the future.