Finalists announced for The Merchant Company Prize for Initiative 2017

From helping to save an endangered species, selling organic eggs and helping to improve the lives of children in Africa, the finalists have been announced for the prestigious 11th annual The Merchant Company of Edinburgh Initiative Prize.

The prize seeks young people aged 13-18 living in and around the Capital to show their initiative and challenges them to make their ideas a reality.

Entrants ran their projects over the summer and reported back at the end of August. The three sets of finalists will be presenting their projects to a panel of judges at The Merchants’ Hall on 4 October when the judges will make their final decision for this year’s winners.

The competition was open to individuals, or a small team, and the winning entry will receive £500 with two runners up taking away £250 each.

Richard Barron, Chairman of The Merchant Company Initiative Prize Committee, said:

“Once again, the judges have had a very difficult time to choose the finalists. We have had an excellent standard of entries for this year’s Initiative Prize where we seek to encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs.

“I congratulate the three finalists and we are looking forward to hearing their presentations and ultimately choosing this year’s winner on 4 October.

“We have been fortunate in this year’s competition to receive sponsorship from Cruden Homes and thank them for their support.”

The finalists are:

Louis’ Eggs:  An organic egg selling business being developed by 14-year-old Louis Moore, a pupil at Firrhill High School.

As he enjoys business studies at school, Louis researched a business he could develop himself and his research lead him into contact with a supplier of organic eggs. Through building up clientele by personal recommendations, Louis now boxes, labels and hand delivers eggs to over forty regular clients weekly. He makes a small profit on each sale which he banks. His future objectives are to expand the business and save up money for the future.

Flower Power: A project to save the bees by Joanna Blair(15) and Nikola Piper(14), students from George Heriot’s School. The two girls wanted to do something to protect wildlife and decided to do their part in helping to save bees which are in decline.  They organised a bake sale and with the profits bought a stock of seeds for plants that bees love. They aimed to provide window boxes and flower seeds so bees can pollinate and gave out pots and seeds to friends and families as well as planting seeds in a communal garden which have now blossomed.

Project Magale: Undertaken by a team of six S4 pupils at Broxburn Academy, their ongong project is to provide financial support for an orphan named Ruth in Uganda to enable her to have an education. The team were upset to learn while studying developing countries in geography how many girls are denied an education because of their gender. Led by teacher Jill Masson, the six pupils sponsor a girl named Ruth who wants to be a doctor. She has lost both parents and a sibling to HIV and has no one to support her. The team raised money by tea, coffee and bake sales and asking everyone to donate spare change. The money was sent for her school fees for a first term as part of the continuing project and letter of thanks has been received from Ruth.

The team members are: Logan Ross, Katie Chapman, Rebecca Wightman, Amy Waterstone, David Martin and Alex Park.

Last year’s prize was won by a team of four boys from Castlebrae Community High School who worked with teacher James Donald.  They designed and built a wood-fired pizza oven made from recycled materials and raised money by donation from those who enjoyed pizza to Macmillan Cancer Support and The Maggie’s Centre at the Western General Hospital in commemoration of a much loved teacher at the school who died of cancer.

Full details of the prize can be found at: http://www.mcoe.org.uk/initiative/

There is also a Facebook page for the Initiative Prize at: https://www.facebook.com/MerchantInitiativePrize/ and a Twitter account at: https://www.twitter.com/InitiativePrize

Erith McKean

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