Croydon’s young entrepreneurs on the rise

By - Monday 14th September, 2015

Liberty Martin on how the Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College girls got inspired

One day in June 2015, three Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College for Girls students proved themselves in the world of entrepreneurship by coming a very close second place in the Centrale 100 competition.

The competition invited Croydon students from years 7, 8, 9 and 10 (that’s the first year in secondary school up to the start of the year of taking GCSEs) to submit their own business proposal with the chance of receiving £100 to sell their products at the Centrale shopping centre. The young entrepreneurs with the highest profit would win £100 worth of shopping vouchers and a trophy for their school.

N.A.M Handcrafters, a company formed by Year 10 students Nicole, Arpitha and Madiha, proposed a business plan selling handmade jewellery and made it to the finals of the competition, offering their product to real live customers face-to-face on Saturday 27th June. The jewellery was created not only by the company’s founders but also by students of one of Norbury Manor’s sister schools in Kenya.

Students created the product, researched the market and set up their own business model

The pupils had to find/create the product themselves, conduct their own market research and set up their own business model, and they achieved a £204 profit in a matter of hours.

“Pricing was decided by our market research, amount spent on products and time taken to make products. As a group we split jobs equally so we could be fully in charge of getting certain aspects of the business done”, the girls remember. Market research on their target audience (female adults) was done by asking teachers during lunchtimes what they thought of their product and how much they were willing to pay for it.

Now we have real respect for the people who do what we had to do

As per usual in business, there were bumps along the way. Team leader Nicole reflects: “Not everything goes to plan and… I think the toughest challenge was to keep going, which at times was very difficult”. However the girls took things in their stride and were quick to think on their feet: “We didn’t have leaflets to give out to the public and all the other competing teams did, [so] we had to use our stands which included an A4 sized paper with information about our stall”.

Despite this, Nicole, Arpitha and Madiha impressed even themselves by ending the competition in a close second place. “Our selling went better than expected and we did really well. We are proud of ourselves and each other”, the girls beam.

So, does the team plan a path into business and entrepreneurship? The competition has already opened their eyes to a new career path and changed their view of business. “We never thought we would have to do some of the tasks that we were faced with on the day. For example, talking to people who we didn’t know. Now we have much more respect for people who do what we had to do”. As Nicole says, “I would love to carry this business on in the future”.

Liberty Martin

Liberty Martin

Born and raised in Croydon with a rich Jamaican heritage, Liberty Martin is a keen aspiring journalist and writer. After winning the Guardian’s Young Reporter of the Year for Years 10 and 11 in 2014, she’s hungry for a good story and wants to travel and learn about the world around her. Always interested in a topical debate, Liberty’s constantly reading online blogs and news websites to keep up-to-date with the latest news. She’s obsessed with chips slathered in vinegar, elephants, Frank Ocean and wants an extensive library of books in her future home. At school Liberty is studying English Literature, Spanish and History at A Level and sings in her school choir.

More Posts

  • John Gass

    I used to be a volunteer business advisor for a youth enterprise scheme and worked with many groups such as the one featured in this article.

    Not all groups manage to stay the course, let alone getting to make significant profits, so my congratulations to everyone who contributed to N.A.M. Handcrafters’ success.

    What was always clear to me was that the groups who managed their way through the challenges that their start-up faced, were run by young people who showed outstanding levels of maturity and understanding of business. I’m sure that all involved here will use their experiences to begin to build up their C.V.s, knowing that they have made themselves far more employable in whatever field they choose to pursue.

    • Jonny Rose

      Fine words, J! :)

  • Anne Giles

    Wonderful – well done!

    • Jonny Rose