YOUNG students in Chatteris discovered that business can be a lot of fun when they grabbed the chance to try running a company themselves.

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Everyone in Year 9 at Cromwell Community College took part in the BoomBizz simulation game, designed to give an insight into life in the real business world.

More than 180 pupils competed in the challenge, which was organised by the Fenland Enterprise in Education (FEE) project and funded by Fenland District Council.

The students were split into small teams vying to become the most successful business. They had to set up their company, buy materials, manufacture their products and then deliver them to fulfil their customer orders – and all under strict quality standards and time pressures.

Councillor Chris Seaton, FDC’s portfolio holder for business development, joined the students for part of the session. He said: “It was tremendous to see their enthusiasm and how quickly they threw themselves into things.

“We need more entrepreneurs. Running a business is hard work and can be frustrating but it’s also immensely rewarding and this is a great way to bring the challenges alive. It’s also something that can excite some students who don’t normally excel at school but who have great potential.”

BoomBizz takes place over three rounds. Between each one, the teams have the opportunity to improve the way their company works to make it more efficient and profitable. The challenge gets increasingly competitive as the results are displayed around the room.

Representatives from four businesses – Bartlett’s, Update Skills, Commercial Utility Brokers and Kier - were on hand throughout to advise the students and act as customers. Further support was provided by staff from FDC and Roddons Housing Association.

At the end, the winning team was presented with certificates and prizes donated by Kier.

Katie Hart, FEE’s manager, said: “BoomBizz encourages students to work well as a team and generates an infectious energy. It gives them a great insight into some of the key challenges businesses face – things like satisfying the customer, managing stock and investing in business development.

“Having real business people in the room meant we could explain clearly what impact their decisions had and draw clear parallels with local businesses.

“That’s what the whole FEE project is about - bringing business people and students together.”

• For more details about FEE, call Katie Hart on 07891 308050 or e-mail manager@fee-project.co.uk

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