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The Big Challenge

The Big Challenge, a citywide competition in Sheffield, aims to educate and introduce young people to the business world;

The Big Challenge, a citywide competition in Sheffield, aims to educate and introduce young people to the business world; small teams work independently to set up their own businesses and sell their products, with guidance and support from their business mentor at school. The competition culminates with a presentation that takes place in front of a panel of judges, where the winning business and individual awards are announced. This year a group of Y9 Tapton students won the prize of ‘Best KS3 Business’ with their brand Kwirki. Libby Bull, Natasha Meek, Lily Smith and Jess Sylvester each won £100 in Meadowhall vouchers and an all-expenses paid trip to Rome. Rebekah Cohen reports ...

They have been working hard since July creating handmade, cute jewellery and cushions inspired by the Japanese style of Kawaii, meaning ‘cute and lovable’. To help them kick-start their business, teams have the option of taking a £25 loan which has to be paid back with interest. However Kwirki chose not to do this as they didn’t want the added complication it entailed. Therefore they all contributed an equal amount of money to the business, to fund their products and marketing, aiming to pay back the costs as soon as possible. They sold their items at school, taking advantage of events such as open evenings and also applied to sell at markets. In order to achieve success with their brand, they each took on a role so that every aspect of their business could be developed. Jess was in charge of finance, Natasha was responsible for managing the website, Libby focussed on marketing and Lily helped manufacture the products. It was this strong work ethic, message and handmade concept, as well as the originality of their design and the fact that the whole business was suitably branded and imaginative, which the team think appealed to the judges about Kwirki.

Kwirki will enjoy their well deserved trip to Rome in June, which includes accommodation in a business hotel. There will be a planned itinerary enabling them to see all the beautiful sights of Rome and a visit to the headquarters of DLA Piper, the multinational law firm who sponsor The Big Challenge. None of the girls have been to Rome before, so this amazing opportunity will be both memorable and exciting for everyone.

Another Tapton business that achieved success in The Big Challenge was S10 Gifts, run single-handedly by fellow Y9 student Heather Wilde. She won the ‘Shining Star’ award which also meant a prize of £100 in Meadowhall vouchers. After breaking away from a very large team, she kept going on her own, working to produce handmade bath bombs, felt figures and bunting. It was this perseverance and her exceptional performance in managing her entire business by herself which won her the award.

The members of Kwirki and S10 Gifts would definitely recommend The Big Challenge to any students thinking of entering the competition next year. They all believe that taking part has provided them with important skills which will be extremely valuable for whatever they may do in the future and that the experience was incredibly worthwhile. “You’ve got to set yourself a challenge,” they said. It also seems that the key to success is having a strong team who can work together by contributing different skills and ideas and perseverance, as proved by all the winners this year.