Many of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs are calling on primary schools nationwide to participate in the Junior Entrepreneur Programme.  The free nationwide programme gives children between the ages of 10 and 12 years a real insight to the business world, by enabling them to convert their commercial ideas into real business opportunities, complete with management teams, sales and especially the thrill of running a successful and profitable business.

The free 12-16 week programme is led by Jerry Kennelly and supported by successful entrepreneurs across Ireland, including Anne Heraty (CPL), Niall Norton (Openet), Frank Salmon (CMS Distribution) and Michael Dawson (One 4 All) among others.  JEP is the only initiative that promotes entrepreneurship at primary level.  Over the last 5 years, more than 26,500 national school pupils have already benefitted from the programme.

 “All too often entrepreneurship programmes target transition year students at second level, but by then many career decisions and subject choices have already been made.  The ideal time to open young minds to the thrill of business is at primary education level, when they are at their most creative and uninhibited in their approach to business ideas and solutions,” said Jerry Kennelly, co-founder of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme and CEO of

Emma Halpin, a pupil at Hewetstown National School in Clane, Co. Kildare with Liam Queally, CEO of Irish Dog Foods,  Kildare County parter. ‘Suds & Snacks’ is the result of a project undertaken by her class in the Junior Entrepreneur Programme, supported by their teacher Emma Milsom.

The Clane pupils found that the concept of a car wash with a cafe for their customers was a great success netting the young pupils €400 in profit. Pupils in the class undertook every part of the project from market research to finance, production, design and sales – and each made a personal investment in the venture. The Clane pupils are among 10,000 around Ireland currently participating in JEP, a not for profit initiative led by Entrepreneur Jerry Kennelly. The programme is supported in Kildare by Irish Dog Foods and its CEO Liam Queally.

The JEP programme is aligned with the primary school curriculum with participants developing skills and confidence in presentation, drawing, technology, research, numeracy as well as problem solving, collaboration and brand awareness.  A full programme kit is provided to schools free of charge, which includes the JEP Teacher’s Guide, posters and classroom display, as well as a dedicated project manager.

In a recent survey, primary school teachers said that the JEP programme supported subjects in the school curriculum, ranking Maths & Science as the key subjects supported, with English and Literacy Skills a very close second and SPHE, Visual Arts and ICT also being supported by the programme.  Almost 90% (87%) of teachers saw an increase in confidence in children participating in JEP in their primary schools, with a further 66% stating that participating in JEP improved the children’s communication skills and their ability to work as a team.

“The pupils participating in JEP not only learn about business on the programme, but they gain a far greater understanding of marketing, finance, sales, leadership while presentation skills, teamwork and confidence increase significantly as a result of this Junior Entrepreneur Programme,” said David Walsh, Founder & CEO of Netwatch, whose company is the JEP county partner in Carlow.

“National school is the ideal time to introduce children to the world of entrepreneurship – young children are creative and curious by nature, and these are just two of the skills required to be successful in business.  Through JEP, we want to show kids just how much fun creating, working and succeeding in business can be,” said Anne Heraty, CEO of CPL Recruitment, who is the JEP County Partner in Longford.

JEP is a great opportunity for all school children. There is no cost to the schools and the benefits are enormous. It has been proven that pupils who participate in entrepreneurship programmes demonstrate increased initiative and self-confidence. Fostering a love for business and a culture of entrepreneurship in children will not only provide opportunities in the future, but will also support job creation and economic development in Ireland.

Applications are now open to all primary schools to participate in the Junior Entrepreneurship Programme 2016/2017 at  The programme is available nationally and is free for parents, children and schools.

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