On Wednesday night, hundreds of people joined the online event from homes and regional watch parties to celebrate the achievements of New Zealand’s most outstanding young entrepreneurs. More than 4700 senior secondary students have taken part in YES this year, setting up 1171 companies between them. Only 22 of those companies made it to the National Final, and only one was crowned YES Company of the Year.
While the event happens annually in Wellington this year regional Champions from across the country pitched online in the dragon’s den style National Final and attended the online awards ceremony “A night of colour” where they found out which companies won a share of the $23,000+ cash prize pool.
Founded in 2020, Abalro Health began importing barberries into New Zealand to create a natural supplement powder. High in antioxidants and vitamins the Iranian superfood has been found to reduce acne by up to 43% a month when taken daily. This year saw an expansion of the Abalro Health product line with the introduction of their barberry kombucha. This time targeting the general public to boost awareness of the barberry. Abalro Health’s supplement powder is currently stoked in 42 stores nationwide.
This isn’t the first time the team have been recognised for their entrepreneurial success, along with a high media presence the team also placed second at YES Nationals 2020 and in September this year were announced as the joint New Zealand Youth Business and Innovation Ambassadors to the World Expo in Dubai January 2022.
Second place was Volta Tech from UCOL Manawatu which repurpose old office computers into custom gaming PC’s. After recognising the high cost of gaming PC’s, which are unaffordable to most teenagers, Volta Tech began creating a more equitable solution. To diversify their income, Volta Tech also builds, develops and sells cryptocurrency mining rigs, a computer used for gathering internet cryptocurrency. The company was awarded $2000, as well as an additional $1000 for their school.
Coffee Direct from Rotorua Boys’ High School came third with their Coffee Delivery Service. With no cafes in near reach to their school Coffee Direct decided to launch their own cafe on the school grounds. They provide barista training to students at the school and have implemented an app-based ordering system. To further support their school, the team have started the Raukura Rangatahi Fund, a startup fund in which 10% of the profits from Coffee Direct will go into supporting new student ventures. They believe this will be a great incentive to uplift up-and-coming entrepreneurs within their school. The company was awarded a $1000 cash prize and $1000 for their school.
Among the judges for the competition were Rachel Taulelei from Oho, David Downs, CEO of The New Zealand Story Group, Simon Whyte, chair of the Lion Foundation, Burcu Senel, CEO of HSBC New Zealand and Brooke Roberts, co-founder, director and co-CEO of Sharesies who were blown away the calibre of pitches from the 22 competing teams.
This event was the culmination of the companies’ business year. Over the past year these students have created and run their own businesses right from conception through to production, marketing and sales. The one-year programme gives students an authentic learning experience that prepares them for life after schooling by teaching entrepreneurship and connecting them with the business community.
The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme Company of the Year 2021 – Abalro Health – Bayfield High Schol
The Sir John Todd Memorial Award for 2nd Place – VoltaTech – UCOL Manawatu
Todd Foundation Award for 3rd Place – Coffee Direct – Rotorua Boys’ High School
Te Arahanga Primary Industries Award – Frost Ease – Mackenzie College
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Award for Innovation – Abalro Health – Bayfield High School
National Excellence Award for CEO of the Year - Meg Macdonell – New PLymouth Girls’ High School
Gallagher Award for Smart Technology - Fa’amalosi - Bishop Viard College
bp Award for Social Enterprise - Period. Diocesan School for Girls
National Excellence Award for Rangatahi Entrepreneur - Taraika Tours – TKKM o Ngā Mokopuna
HSBC Award for Environmental Sustainability - Kiwi Kick – Otumoetai College
National Excellence Award for Pasifika Business - The Hustle – Bishop Viard College
Ministry of Youth Development Award for Resilience - Tech Angel – Aparima College & Trio Treat – Flaxmere College TPU
NZ Aid Programme Award for Solving a Development Problem - AINC – Freyberg High School
National Excellence Award for Sales and Marketing - The Together Collective – Sacred Heart Girls’ New Plymouth
Tourism Industry New Zealand Trust Award for Tourism - Ora Cards – New Plymouth Girls’ High School
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand Award for Accounting and Finance - Abalro Health – Bayfield High School
Sir James Fletcher Award for Most Inspiring Teacher - Brendan Lambert – Manurewa HIgh School