By Martin Walsh
FOUR West Cork business ‘dragons’ gathered last week to see just what the pupils at Kilcolman NS are made of.
From early morning there was an air of excitement in the senior classroom as five teams waited to make their presentations to the West Cork Dragons as they arrived to put them through their paces and analyse their business ventures.
‘They blew us away with their creativity, the way they thought through their different ideas and particularly the way they presented them,’ said Sean Mahon, one of the four ‘dragons’ and Southern Star managing director.
The dragons were on hand to judge the opening phase of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) at Kilcolman National School.
Meanwhile, the other ‘dragons’ – Cllr Holly Cairns, businesswoman and politician; Noel O’Callaghan, Shannon Vale Group and Robert Merrick, Bandon Office Supplies, were introduced to the teams by principal Freda Mills.
Once the interview sessions were completed, it was time for the dragons to make their decisions. It wasn’t a quick turnaround, as Sean Mahon explained when all four returned with the verdict.
‘The reason we took so long is that it’s been really hard to come to a decision,’ Mr Mahon said.
‘Firstly, all the presentations and ideas were fantastic and the amount of work in terms of ideas, design, power point presentations, was huge. You should all be really proud of yourselves and there are a lot of people in this room that will go on to be successful in the future.’
‘You all stood up and presented your ideas and that takes a lot of bravery and even now. There are a lot of adults who don’t like doing that.’
He said the idea that stood out the most and that could be taken forward was the ‘one for all pen’.
Congratulating the winners, Cllr Holly Cairns said: ‘It’s amazing to see the business ideas are so climate action-orientated. It gives you hope and faith in the future to see a young generation coming up with, not alone environmentally friendly options, but marketable and clever ideas.’
‘From an age group of nine to twelve it’s amazing, the children now have excellent opportunities,’ Noel O’Callaghan said.
Looking forward to the next step in the JEP Dragon competition, Robert Merrick wished the all pupils success.
‘It’s clear to me that there is a theme of recycling and reducing plastic going on in this school. Each group came with their own elements of expertise, presentation, concepts, production methods and others went to the level of costs.’