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Dragon’s Den final showcases young entrepreneurial talent

31 October, 2018

Innovation, inspiration and viability – the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) teams competing at the South Canterbury regional finals on 30 October will have to impress the judges on several fronts for a chance to win prizes and to compete at the national level.

Tracey Berry, the new Deputy Chief Executive of Customer Experience and Engagement at Ara, will be one of three judges watching the seven teams of secondary school students making their Dragon’s Den style pitches.

“The Young Enterprise Scheme promotes and supports entrepreneurship, providing in-school learning and access to external mentorship to build up a skill set that is not taught in the standard curriculum,” Berry says. “Young people who participate are learning fundamentals in finance for business, how to coordinate and organise a team, gaining leadership responsibilities including often dealing with external stakeholders - many of those aspects you can’t teach through books; you learn best through doing.”

The business idea, market research, production, innovation and the pitch itself will all be taken into account as the judges assess the teams in the five minutes they have to make as big an impression as possible.

With a background in finance, Berry will be particularly looking for financial viability of business ideas. However, it is the participation, not winning, that is important. Failing fast is just as instructive as tasting success for all types of learners in the year-long programme.

“Over the years, with my own teens and their experiences through YES, I’ve seen some young entrepreneurs who are not necessarily academically really strong, but when they are thrown into this environment where it is hands-on learning they really come into their own.

“How they handle themselves, their commitment and passion to the task and team can be very different a skill set than just academic in this real life environment. I think that is why Ara is so keen to participate, because YES aligns so well to the way we teach, which is that hands-on vocational learning experience.”

YES has helped to develop many future leaders and entrepreneurs. “There is a real life micro experiment in a way that creates enthusiasm, support and passion for those who will become some of the future leaders of our country, either through their own businesses or through playing key roles in other peoples’ businesses, so it’s quite exciting.”

Along with hosting the event for regional organisers South Canterbury Chambers of Commerce, Ara also sponsors two of the five awards on the night.


  • Sunsational – Social Impact Award
  • Redcastle Recycling – Spirit of Enterprise and Enterprising Innovation Awards
  • Gaia Enterprise - Sustainability Award
  • Caitlin Joy – Excellence in Marketing and YES Company of the Year Awards