West Coast Social Enterprise Wins Top National Award At Young Enterprise Scheme Awards

05 December 2023
Young Enterprise Scheme
Students from Papa Taiao Earthcare have been awarded The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) Company of the Year for their business Trees for Change.

The company was awarded $3000, as well as a $5000 scholarship for each company member to the Massey University Business School, and their school was awarded $2,000. They were also the recipients of the National Excellence Award for Sales and Marketing.

On Monday night, 350 guests attended the Young Enterprise Scheme National Awards 2023 at Tākina Convention and Events Centre in Wellington. Across the year, over 4,500 secondary school students participated in The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme, setting up over 1,000 companies between them. The awards night celebrated 30 of these companies, and Trees for Change was crowned National YES Company of the Year.

Trees for Change from Papa Taiao Earthcare have created a business that supports its community by facilitating tree planting locally, with a sponsorship model on the corporate side of their business, as well as retail sales through their own nursery. Trees for Change has truly delved into the heart of the environment, making a significant impact on both the community and social fronts. The judges were particularly impressed by the company’s commitment to fostering growth in conservation across the west coast. Trees for Change stands as a shining example of a business making a positive difference in the world, with a strong emphasis on community impact and environmental stewardship.

Second place was Pounamu Chews from Manurewa High School who have silicone chews that replicate pounamu and provide a safe way for babies to use while they are teething. Their annual report spoke volumes, and the judges were impressed by their ability to navigate setbacks and pivot effectively. What set them apart was the admirable cultivation of te reo around their product, showcasing a deep cultural connection. Pounamu Chews has truly demonstrated resilience and cultural sensitivity in their journey. The company was awarded $2000, as well as an additional $2000 for their school.

Third place was Enivo Pots from Wellington Girls’ College who are hoping to create biodegradable plant pots using forestry waste products such as slash. The judges were particularly impressed by sole trader Elisa Harley’s overall goal. The judges acknowledged the long road ahead, recognizing the big plan through various projects to fund the ultimate end product. Enivo Pots secured a top-three pitch with their exceptional ability to identify problems and create innovative solutions. The judges were inspired by Elisa’s focus on the bigger picture and the ultimate goal of their project. The company was awarded $1000, as well as an additional $2000 for their school.

The judges for the competition were Burcu Senel – Chief Executive Officer of HSBC, David Steele – Trustee, The Lion Foundation, Lance Walker – Trustee, Young Enterprise Trust, Rachel Taulelei – Co-Founder of Oho, and Rod Baxter – CEO, The Princes Trust.

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 programme gives students an authentic learning experience that prepares them for life after schooling by teaching entrepreneurship and connecting them with the business community.

Lara Thompson from Papa Taiao Earthcare said DWC provided great mentorship to the Trees for Change students throughout the YES programme.

"They provided financial assistance to help the whole team get up to the regional finals. Having a large team the financial cost to get all team members up to Wellington was significant, however the support of DWC and other local businesses enabled all team members to attend the competition and prize giving. This was a huge highlight for all involved," she said.

"The students were thrilled with the promotional video that DWC created for T4C which showcased the kaupapa of the young enterprise. This video gained great exposure and helped the team gain the national excellence award in sales and marketing. Parts of this video were also played on the Breakfast show which enabled viewers from across Aotearoa to get a taste of what the students were achieving.

"Follow up support that DWC have offered post the YES competition has provided the students with the opportunity to continue to grow the business. Mentorship has helped the students identify and work towards next steps in growing a successful business outside of the Young Enterprise Scheme.

"As a teacher who doesn't have an educational background in business, DWC support has made me feel confident to facilitate the YES programme with my students," Lara added.

"The fact that neither the students or myself were studying business created extra challenges for us, however the expert business knowledge and advice provided by DWC eased some of the uncertainty around venturing into this challenge."

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