22 February 2017

Southland’s young entrepeneurs are thinking big

The Southland Times

Southland’s budding entrepeneurs are adapting to the changing face of the business world.

The annual Young Enterprise Scheme has started up again for 2017, with Southland high school students meeting with local business leaders to brainstorm new ideas for small businesses.

135 students from around Southland are participating this year, out of about 4000 nationally .

Wednesday’s launch, Enterprise Day, was the start of a year-long process of researching and refining business ideas, before eventually launching a product by the end of the year.

At E-Day, students were introduced to the programme and started out by building a team and an idea for a new business.

Aparima College teacher Lynne Grove, who has been involved with the programme for the past five years, said she had noticed a major change in the way students built their businesses.

“Even if the product is traditional, there’s been a big change in the way it’s promoted.

“They’re using using facebook, social media – everything’s done online now.”

YES head of special projects Robyn Frey said the two biggest changes had been the impact of technology and changing business models.

“Students now have the opportunity to market their business online, where they can reach outside of their local connections and sell internationally.

“There’s been a huge shift to business models where they make use of existing commercial products – they’re scaling up to thinking big like a proper commercial business.”

Frey said the changes also reflected new opportunities for different career paths.

“Being an entrepeneur has become a viable career option for young people now.

“We’re a small country so we need to be innovative – New Zealand needs lots of young entrepeneurs.”

Other events throughout the year will include Dragon’s Den, Pitch Night, Market Day, and a regional awards night.

YES is being locally co-ordinated by the Southland Chamber of Commerce, who are hoping it will continue to help increase the viability of business in Southland.

Southland Chamber of Commerce YES co-ordinator Joanne O’Connor said the programme taught a whole range of valuable skills that would equip students for the business world.

“Every year they amaze us with what they come up with.”

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