Young entrepreneurs hard at work

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Team meeting .. Enjoying an online business meeting on Monday are, from left, Bayfield High School and Young Enterprise Scheme team members Albalro chief executive Robert Donohoe, chief financial officer Abby Green and production director Alex Livingstone (all 16, all of Dunedin). PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Young Dunedin entrepreneurs are launching an exotic bitter berry product to battle acne.

Bayfield High School economics teacher Lauren Sandri said her school had seven teams entered in the 2020 Young Enterprise Scheme competition.

The 23 pupils – who were in years 11 to 13 – volunteered to enter the competition, which gives New Zealand pupils a chance to set up and run their own business, Miss Sandri said.

The teams’ business ideas ranged from a “retractable” drumstick – which could transform between a common drumstick and a brush drumstick – to a “stress-ballĀ  steering wheel”.

“If you get stressed when you’re driving you can squeeze the steering wheel.”

Another team had been creating a berry product designed to battle skin conditions, such as acne.

The team were creating a product called Abalro joining the first two letters of the first names of its team members financial officer Abby Green, production director Alex Livingstone and chief executive Robert Donohoe.

Robert said his team were planning to import fresh barberries from Iran.

“They taste similar to a cranberry slightly bitter.”

In Dunedin, the team would dehydrate the antioxidant-rich berries, grind them into a powder and package it for sale.

The barberry contained a chemical called berberine, which if taken daily could help people fight skin conditions, such as acne, he said.

A $150 “seed funding” grant, given by the University of Waikato, would help pay for the first berry order.

The team were “very fortunate” to be one of eight New Zealand teams selected for the funding.

The team had received $350 seed funding from the University of Otago Business School – the scheme’s gold sponsor.

The target market of their product was teenagers with skin conditions and their parents.

The product was unique to the market because it was made from natural ingredients.

All the team members had used competitors’ skincare products before and found they often caused side effects, which were “just as annoying as the acne itself”.

Since lockdown, the Abalro team had been working remotely from home on the project, using technology such as video communication software Zoom.

“It’s another skill we’ve been able to pick up.”

Scheme regional co-ordinator Sarah Rickerby said more than 4000 pupils had entered the competition across New Zealand.

“There are already some awesome and inspiring ideas emerging.”

The regional winners would attend the national final in Wellington on December 3.