By Annette Chrysostomou
A local school competition has proved pupils not only have original ideas but can also run a successful business.
Organiser Junior Achievement (JA) which delivers experiential programmes on the topics of financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship to students asked 380 students in Cypriot secondary and technical schools aged 15 to 18 to form teams to set up and operate real companies with innovative products during a seven-month period starting last year.
The project started with team formation and included capital raising, business plan development, product development, marketing and sales. It is part of JA’s Company Programme, the largest youth entrepreneurship programme on the island.
This is the fourth time the project has been running, and the pupils’ companies have been very successful this year. More than 50 businesses have earned over €40,000 in sales so far.
The final competition was recently won by a group of students from the English School in Nicosia who were named ‘Enterprise of the Year 2017’ at an award ceremony.
The company, Grow Green, created a biodegradable bedding plant pot with reused coffee. The coffee in the box utilises used ground coffee as fertiliser, adding organic material to the soil, which improves drainage, water retention and aeration.
All kinds of plants can be placed in the box which dissolves after a couple of weeks in the ground while the fertilising coffee stays around the plant. The boxes, which are available in three sizes, can be ordered online.
“What gets us motivated is if your idea doesn’t sound strange it already exists,” Irene Andreou, one of eleven-member Grow Green company. “And this kept us going. Our idea doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.”
‘Avita Nostra’, founded by eight girls from the Limassol Lanitiou Lyceum came second in the contest.
Avita Nostra consists of two collections, the Avita collection, where elegant modern jewellery is created by encasing authentic Cypriot embroidery, made by women from Lefkara, Fyti and Anogyra, in glass. The Natura Collection is made up of encased Cypriot wildflowers and aromatic plants of Cyprus such as lemons, lavender and chamomile.
“Our tradition is one of the richest in the world. By maintaining it, we maintain our identity. Time may change, but we need to find new ways to embrace it,” the active and creative teenagers said of their enterprise.
Part of the income from the online sales goes to the MEDICleft Cyprus face centre.
Wrap-it, a project by students from the Junior and Senior School in Nicosia was ranked third.
The team members invented a protective food wrap made of pure beeswax, coconut oil, and cotton, offering a viable alternative to common food wrapping, aimed at improving consumer health while helping to save the environment.
“By raising awareness about commonly used food wrapping, we hope that consumers will begin to understand the consequences of their actions while taking responsibility, both for their own wellbeing and of the world around them,” said the team.
Wrap-It is now available at Get Fresh and Etherion Bio Stores in Nicosia and can be ordered through Facebook.
The final contest with ten finalists from 50 participant teams who presented their innovative projects to a jury and the award ceremony were held in front of more than 400 guests in the Royal Hall in Nicosia.
Present at the event were then Deputy Minister to the President Constantinos Petrides, the former EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou and the British High Commissioner Matthew Kidd.
Grow Green will represent Cyprus at the JA European Contest to be held in Brussels, Belgium in July 2017.
www.jacyprus.org or contact Elena Michael [email protected]