Enterprising Edinburgh teens set for contest finale

Merchants prize finalists Joanna Blair, left, 15, and Nikola Piper, 14. Picture: Alistair Linford
Merchants prize finalists Joanna Blair, left, 15, and Nikola Piper, 14. Picture: Alistair Linford
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THREE sets of enterprising youngsters are set to battle it out for the top prize in a competition which celebrates initiative.

Judges selected the final shortlist from dozens of entries for The Merchant Company of Edinburgh award, an annual prize which tasks teenagers aged 13 to 18 with bringing their ideas to life.

The competition, which is open to both teams and individuals, will come to its climax this evening as the three 
finalists present their ideas before the panel of judges at the prestigious Merchants’ Hall venue on Hanover Street.

Among those shortlisted in this year’s contest is Firhill High School pupil Louis Moore, who set up a business supplying organic eggs.

Louis, 14, boxes, labels and hand delivers eggs to more than 40 regular clients each week, making a small profit, some of which he reinvests and some he saves.

Meanwhile, George Heriot’s pupils Joanna Blair, 15, and Nikola Piper, 14, have made the final three for their “Flower Power” project to help protect bees.

The pair organised a bake sale and used the profits to buy a stock of seeds for plants that bees love.

They aimed to provide window boxes and flower seeds to help the bees pollinate and gave out pots and seeds to friends and families.

A group of six S4 pupils at Broxburn Academy made the final three for their ongoing project to provide financial support for an orphan named Ruth in Uganda to enable her to have an education. The students – Logan Ross, Katie Chapman, Rebecca Wightman, Amy Waterstone, David Martin and Alex Park – raised money by tea, coffee and bake sales and asking everyone to donate spare change.

Richard Barron, chairman of The Merchant Company’s education liaison and enterprise 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.

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

The competition’s five-strong judging panel – which includes The Scotsman and Evening News editor Frank O’Donnell – will make their final decision following tonight’s presentation.

The winning entry will receive £500 with the two runners-up each taking away £250.

But Mr Barron said the competition was about “much more” than a chance to win some prize money.

He said: “It builds self-respect, recognition and confidence and the spin-off from being involved in the process for such a prestigious organisation is very much greater than the money.

“It’s a great confidence builder and it’s good to have on their CV.”

Tonight’s presentations will be made by Pat Denzler, master of The Merchant Company.