The three students won Southland Young Enterprise of the Year award for their anti-bullying campaign, Sweeten Up Your Day.
They will now represent the Southland and Lakes district region at the national competition at Te Papa in Wellington on December 6.
Sweeten Up Your Day aims to stop bullying and support victims by selling brightly coloured ribbons for $2, with proceeds going to the Mental Health Foundation.
Young Enterprise Studies teacher Lynne Grove said a year ago she never would have guessed the three students would win because they had always been the quiet bunch at the back of the classroom.
Taking part in the competition had helped to grow their confidence enormously, she said.
This year's win also marked the fourth year in a row Aparima College has won the Southland Central Otago competition.
"It doesn't matter how big your school is, you can still have great ideas," she said.
The group said they had learned a lot about working as a team and what core and essential business skills were needed to run a successful campaign.
A students-for-students approach rather than coming from the top down, involving adults, had emerged as the best option because students responded to people better who were on their same level.
"We've learned a lot about business skills," MacDonald said.
The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme is a business programme developed for schools to deliver at years 12 and 13.This year 138 school students from Southland and Central Otago formed 35 businesses.
Students work through the process of setting up their business, developing a new product or service, preparing a business plan, raising start-up capital, getting their idea to the marketplace, and running their business.
Several other schools also won various excellence awards for the enterprise studies business at the awards.
Regional Excellence Awards and competition winners:
Young Entrepreneur Scholar of the Year - Chaydon Te Muunu, Southland Girls' High School
Award for Enterpriser of the Year - Jy-sharna Wells-Phillipson, Southland Girls' High School
Best Stand at Trade Fair - The Cookie Jar, James Hargest College
Best Annual Review - Make Time, Mount Aspiring College
Award for Innovation - Dr Dry, Mount Aspiring College
Company Excellence Award - Clearwater Cordial, Mount Aspiring College
Award for Sales and Marketing sponsored by Westpac - Pick Me, Mount Aspiring College
High Growth Potential Award - Dr Dry, Mount Aspiring College
Article by Briar Babington, Stuff