Young entrepreneurs import fashion accessories from Kenya to sell
THESE bright sparks would give Richard Branson and Alan Sugar a run for their money.
The young entrepreneurs from Thornleigh Salesian College are importing trendy fashion accessories from Africa to sell to fellow pupils.
And the business, which helps women in Dagoretti, one of the poorest slums in Nairobi, Kenya, has even won a national award, presented by Hollywood star Colin Firth.
The pupils’ enterprise, Mama Margaret, is now so popular that 180 “mamas” are now making bracelets and bags for the firm, which started four years ago with only six overseas workers.
Mama Margaret’s was set up after teacher Steve Burrowes was looking for keepsakes to give school leavers.
He called contacts he had made at a youth project in Africa, who were helping women to free themselves from poverty and exploitation through work.
An order was placed for personalised friendship bracelets, and since then the business has taken off.
More than £6,000 worth of goods have been sold since the start of the summer term.
Every item sold includes information about the difference the purchase has made to women in allowing their children, and themselves, to receive an education.
Mr Burrowes said: “This is about giving these woman dignity through work.
“We are receiving orders from other schools, and are now looking to supply to businesses.”
He added: “The young people have not met the ‘mamas’, but it is not about that, it is about making a difference and opening the eyes of young people a little bit wider.”
The business was recently hailed at the 2014 Observer Ethical Awards.
Owen Bond, aged 14, said: “Through taking part in this I have a better understanding. These women are fighting for an education for their children, which we get for free.
“We want to expand this through setting up a website and developing an app.”
Emma Jones, aged 14, added: “It was exciting to win and meet Colin Firth.
“We do put a lot of time into the business, and it has changed me.
“This business is helping to give women a chance. I know that I want to work for charities.”