A group of business-minded young women with an innovative product have taken out the top award at the Bay of Plenty Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) awards dinner.
Tiger Enterprises, a group of eight students from Tauranga Girls' College, won the regional award at an awards dinner at Mills Reef winery on Wednesday and will go on to represent the Bay at the national YES event held in Wellington in December.
The students presented a range of washable lunchboxes they had designed, created, marketed and sold online.
Isabella Morris, chief executive of Tiger Enterprises, also achieved the highest YES exam mark (an exam sat by more than 2200 students throughout the country) and as a result was named AUT Scholar of the Year.
Ms Morris said her team was surprised to win the competition because of the high level of talent displayed by the other teams but they had worked hard and it was a ``good surprise''.
She said while Tiger Enterprises probably wouldn't continue operating after the competition, the business had met its targets of selling 450 units and provided a great learning experience for the eight students involved.
"In terms of looking forward, every single girl is going on to study commerce next year, and going with a real appreciation of what it's actually like to run a business.''
Runner-up team Holy Tomoli from Otumoetai College is also up for a National Excellence Award, which will be presented in Wellington on December 5.
YES co-ordinator Tauranga region Anne Pankhurst said teams were judged on three components; the regional co-ordinator's mark, the dragon's den result and the marking of an annual report sent to Wellington.
For her part, Ms Pankhurst said Tiger Enterprises were "always very well prepared, organised and efficient''.
"They knew their product, their market and how to match the two. They learnt the lessons on the way through, had their challenges with suppliers and manufacturers and so learnt the negotiating skills that is critical to success.''
"There are 180 students in 18 teams from six schools doing the Young Enterprise Scheme in the region,'' she said.
"What is particularly exciting is the high standard that our region produces. There are always teams in the Excellence Awards.
The winner of the Regional Award will now travel to Wellington and present to a panel of Dragons Dens and may receive a National Award.
"The Tauranga Chamber of Commerce is delighted to coordinate the Young Enterprise Scheme and congratulates all the students, teachers and mentors,'' Ms Pankhurst said.