‘SavetheSeas’, a student company from Coláiste Cholmcille, Indreabhán, represented Ireland with distinction at the Junior Achievement (JA) Europe Company of the Year Competition 2019 in Lille, France from 4 – 6 July.
‘SavetheSeas’ was founded by Stephen Connolly, Feidhlim Folan and Eanna Curran as an online retail business which raises money for charities which work to remove plastics from the ocean. As winners of the Údarás na Gaeltachta Clár na gComhlachtaí in March this year, ‘SavetheSeas’ had the honour of representing Ireland in the prestigious pan-European stage of the competition.
The JA Europe Company of the Year Competition in Lille featured 200+ young entrepreneurs who had qualified at a national-level and were competing for the title of JA Europe Company of the Year. A high-level panel of 10 judges interviewed the contestants and evaluated their approach to communication, teamwork, problem-solving, objective-setting, planning and review, administration and financial systems, personnel management, product development, customer focus, marketing and sales, as well as financial results. Participants also showcased their product or service at an exhibitors stand.
Last year, more than 345,000 students took part in the JA Company Programme across 40 countries. Since its launch in 1919, the JA Company Programme offers students aged 15-18 the opportunity to learn how to move a business idea from concept to reality. Throughout the school year, students produced a product or developed a service, creating their own company and managing their business from start to finish. The overall winner of the JA Company Programme 2019 was Entella Company from Turkey whose product collected waste in the sea.
On their return to Ireland ‘SavetheSeas’ said: “Representing Ireland at the JA Europe Company of the Year Competition was amazing and a huge learning curve. We have gone from being 3 ordinary teenagers in Connemara with an interest in technology and ocean and marine welfare to representing our school at national and European level.
During this experience we have interacted with experts in entrepreneurship in local companies and universities to being judged by a jury of international business leaders. We have developed a multitude of skills throughout this project and are very grateful to Údarás na Gaeltachta and Junior Achievement Ireland for this opportunity, which has further inspired and motivated us to continue with our company ‘SavetheSeas’."
Earlier in the school year ‘SavetheSeas’ had competed against more than 750 Transition Year students in seven Gaeltacht regions in Cork, Galway, Donegal, Kerry, Mayo, Meath & Waterford during the Údarás na Gaeltachta Clár na gComhlachtaí which is run in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI).
SavetheSeas was mentored by their business studies teacher Máirín Ní Mhainnín and local business volunteer Kathleen McDonagh from GoWest. The students also received workshops on entrepreneurship from John Breslin and Jonathan Levie of the National University of Galway (NUIG).
JAI is a part of JA Europe, the largest non-profit in Europe dedicated to preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship. This is the first time that winners of the Údarás na Gaeltachta Clár na gComhlachtaí had the opportunity to take part at the European level of the competition.
This year’s JA Europe Company of the Year Competition was combined with the worldwide centennial celebration of Junior Achievement and the 30th anniversary of the JA Company of the Year Competition.