Taranaki’s young, budding entrepreneurs went head-to-head on Tuesday, as part of the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme’s Taranaki Region Awards Night.
Three teams, each comprised of year 12 and 13 pupils, took part in the Dragon’s Den-style event, with Hawera High School pupil Tenneile Crump-Conchie taking out the top honors for her business, Country Canines.
Showing off her multiple talents, Tenneile’s business sees her undertaking the role of huntress, food processor and business, operations and marketing manager in a dried venison pet food venture. Though the business started as a collaborative effort, she now runs it singlehandedly with other team members leaving during the year to pursue career opportunities.
Tenneile told organisers she was overwhelmed to receive the top award and was clearly surprised. She needn’t have been, with the Dragon’s Den judges impressed with the evolution of her pet food business during the year and her plans to continue and to grow the business alongside her pursuit of an applied management degree next year, inspired by her Young Enterprise experience.
Tenneile will now head to the national final awards night in Wellington in December.
Fellow finalists Nunya Beeswax, who was awarded runner-up, and the team Naked Cuts, both attend New Plymouth Girls High School.
The three competing teams were chosen from the more than 139 pupils from nine secondary schools that took part in the Young Enterprise Scheme in Taranaki this year. The scheme provides participants with the opportunity to grow their entrepreneurial ideas by setting up and running a business.
The event in New Plymouth also provided the opportunity for the scheme to welcome its new key regional sponsor, Massey University. The University has a five-year sponsorship arrangement, providing certainty around core funding for the programme in Taranaki.
Massey has been involved with the scheme at a national level for many years, having hosted the annual Entrepreneurs-in-Action weekend for 10 years and awarded scholarships to regional and national winners.
Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the scheme aligns with the University’s own strategic ambitions. "Massey is committed to ensuring our graduate attributes include entrepreneurial capability. This scheme allows us to build the foundations of these attributes in students before they join us at university," Professor Thomas says.
"The University is already doing a lot in the Taranaki region, including working with Venture Taranaki to develop, build and support sustainable economic growth, including offering in-region Master of Business Administration programmes during in past years. This scheme allows us to provide support for another segment of the region."
For Taranaki Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Arun Chaudhari, the decision to approach Massey University made logical sense. "In considering who could replace Shell New Zealand, who graciously sponsored the scheme for 18 years, our first thoughts went to Massey University," Mr Chaudhari says. "We believe Massey has a lot to offer high school students in Taranaki, especially in the areas of innovation and enterprise."
Massey was represented at last night’s awards night by its Taranaki business development manager, Eve Kawana-Brown, who has been involved with the scheme for six years, having mentored the 2013 national award winners, New Plymouth Girls’ High School duo Danielle Watt and Sarah Mount.
Kawana-Brown says: "Tenneile has a great chance of doing well at the national awards. She is confident, focused and passionate about evolving her values-based business".