High School Girls Turned Entrepreneurs in Southland

Flavoured lollies, a phone case that holds perfume and penholders on drink bottles were just some of the concepts presented by Southland Girls High School students at a Dragon's Den-style competition on Friday.

About 50 year 10 students took part in business enterprise challenge MaiBiz.

The challenge is run nationally but this was the first time it had come to Southland.

Southland Girls' High School Te Reo Maori teacher and whanau academic tutor Marama Davis said the Dragon's Den approach was a different way to see the girls.

"The young women take on a business hat," she said.

Students presented a range of concepts including of a phone case that holds perfume, flavoured milk bottle lollies, a bed sheet peg, a bra with pockets and penholders on drink bottles for exams.

Students, divided into teams, worked for three days on the challenge, making prototypes of their ideas and then presenting them to five expert business women in Invercargill.

New Zealand First MP Ria Bond, Southland Girls' High School Board of Trustees chairwoman and Alsco NZ branch manager Karen Purdue, Malloch McLean accountant Ashleigh Taomia, ANZ manager Kaska Kean and ASB assistant manager Leanne Hewlett judged the ideas.

SGHS head of maths and whanau academic tutor Sue Mattingly said the business women in the community were good role models for the girls.

The challenge would help students be successful in the business world and "give them that fire in their belly", she said.

Student Vachrisa Stevenson said her favourite part was learning new skills they could all use in the future.

MaiBiz owner, entrepreneur and training consultant Mark Douglas said the challenge was about bringing "fun" business studies to schools.

"There's one or two girls in here that could be the next big thing."

Sponsored by Maori Womens Development Inc, MaiBiz aims to get young people, especially Maori, excited about business.

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