Mala Belfast win Young Enterprise NI Start up competition

Mala Belfast, a ­­­­team of designers and creatives make sustainable and locally sourced bags, pockets and other accessories.

The winner of the Young Enterprise NI Startup programme was announced Friday 1th May on Instagram by Young Enterprise NI Chief Executive Carol Fitzsimons and UUSU Entrepreneurship Manager Chris Shannon.

 The winning team is made up of 4 creative students; Katie Ireland, Samanta Radek, Rachel Okungbowa and Zoe Hayes, who are all studying on the Belfast Campus of Ulster University. Commenting on the programme, Katie Ireland, Co-founder at Mala Belfast, stated:

“Young enterprise has been an invaluable experience for our entire Mala Belfast Team. Without having been a part of Young Enterprise we probably would never have taken the steps to turn our idea into a business. We would never have formed our team and worked so hard to make it something we believed in and want to continue long-term. It gave us the confidence and motivation to really consider running our business a possibility. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity and all the connections we’ve made and lessons we’ve learned thanks to participating in Start-up.”

Through extensive market and customer research, Mala Belfast hopes to boost the local economy, bring local businesses together, and tackle fast fashion with an eco-friendly local alternative to bags, pockets and accessories.

The start-up programme is delivered by Young Enterprise NI in collaboration with the UUSU Enterprise Centre. This year’s programme attracted a wide variety of teams from all UU faculties and campuses. Other businesses sold sensory toys and eco-friendly bamboo beauty produces.

The Young Enterprise Start-Up programme gives students aged 18-30 the ultimate opportunity to develop their employability skills and prepare for the world of work. Students from across all 4 campuses came together to form cross-faculty teams and take their enterprises from an idea to trading within 5 months. Through the 8 key stages of the programme, the teams were supported by business mentors, online resources and trade opportunities in order to get valuable feedback and progress their businesses forward.

On 4th March the 3 finalist teams pitched to the panel of Judges on the Belfast Campus. The panel of judges included Charlene Armour, Found of ARMOUR, Lisa Donaldson, Co-Founder of Snacks at Franks and Carol Fitzsimons, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise NI.

New to the competition for this year only, was the ability for each team to enter the UK Final. We wish Honey Cubs, Bamboozled and Mala Belfast good luck as they enter the next stage of the competition.

To keep up to date with enterprise activity and innovative start-ups from UU students and graduates; follow @uusu_enterprise on Twitter.

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