Junior Entrepreneur Programme Awards 2024 – Lisheen National School Named Class of the Year

19th June 2024

Posted In: FYI

The 4th, 5th, and 6th class at Lisheen National School near Skibbereen, Co. Cork, were recently named Class of the Year 2024 in the All-Island Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) Awards.

JEP allows primary school children to create and launch a real business from their classroom.

The class of 26 pupils, ranging in age from ten to thirteen, scooped the prestigious award with Draíocht na Mara, a natural, organic seaweed soap business.

The classroom was transformed into a science lab as the children experimented with soap-making, working with different essential oils, seaweeds and natural dyes. The pupils rolled up their sleeves and collected, washed and dried carrageen moss from the local strand after learning about its antioxidant, soothing and moisturising properties. They overcame several false starts and production problems before finally hitting on the winning formula for their soap.

Down to Business

Next, it was down to business, the class secured a €300 loan from the Parents Association for their seed money, which they repaid in full. They made an initial batch of 100 soaps but had to quickly increase production to 300 bars to cope with demand. The class used their digital talents to produce a beautiful label for the soap and create a video ad to promote it. Finally, they invited the local community to a showcase day where the product was on sale and also set up a stall in the local farmers’ market.

Reaping the Rewards

The class generated total sales of €2,160 and a profit of €1,350. With their profits, the class treated themselves to a trip to Baltimore for pizza and ice cream and also to individual Skibbereen Gift Vouchers for spending in local businesses. They made a donation to charity and they plan to spend the remainder on buying chickens and a coop for the school, ready for their next business venture!


Reflecting on the impact of JEP on the class, class teacher Niamh McCarthy said,

“Every child in the class has blossomed and grown on this programme

– children who aren’t suited to book learning, those who are highly academic, children who are very creative – there’s something for everyone, and it has been such a pleasure to watch them all flourish.”

Mentors And Role Models

Thousands of Irish entrepreneurs have mentored 5th and 6thclass primary school pupils while they create and launch mini businesses in their schools. Children are inspired by local entrepreneurs invited to the classroom to share their stories.  EY Entrepreneur of the Year Alumni also volunteer their time to visit schools in their counties.

12,000 Junior Entrepreneurs

Marie Lynch, the co-founder and Managing Director of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme, said, “JEP has become a rite of passage for children in primary schools. The class develops a lasting bond by working together and combining their talents to experience real-world success. For many, it is the highlight of their primary school years.”

Enterprise Ireland has supported JEP since 2020 under its Primary Schools Entrepreneurship Initiative, underlining the vital role of entrepreneurship in shaping Ireland’s future and the commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial culture from an early age.

Pictured: Pupils from 4th, 5th & 6th Class, Lisheen National School, Skibbereen, Co. Cork, scrooped JEP Class of the Year 2024. Sisters Ava (left) and Ellie Coakley hold the winning product, Draíocht na Mara – a natural, organic seaweed soap. (Image: Jerry Kennelly).