Young business leaders are motivated by creativity, hard work and bringing a smile to their customers' faces. Of course, the end sale always makes the whole exercise that much more enjoyable. At least that's what the young people say

When it comes to money, it seems that young adults know how to get it. Right from identifying market needs to product feasibility studies and production and marketing, children from 75 schools made it clear that they weren't just the consumers of the future, but also part of the competition.

For the third year in a row, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders organised the Young Entrepreneurs Competition and encouraged students to set up stalls in Reef Mall, Dubai, and sell their merchandise.

The competition was judging them on innovation, product viability, commercial use of product, marketing, presentation, service, customer satisfaction and team spirit.

And it was a regular bazaar atmosphere, as the students would holler out urging you to "check out their stuff" or spring out in front of you in a bid to charm their way into your wallets.

Creativity scores
Of course, the sales tactics weren't necessarily the most successful, but where over-enthusiasm failed, their creativity scored high.

Most stalls opted to buy raw materials from cheaper outlets - such as the souqs, and Karama - and then, as they said, customise them with their exclusive touch. An example of how hard work and innovation paid off - with impressive financial returns - was the stall Les Chapeau.

Maryam Alwais and her friends from Al Mawakeb School bought plain caps from the market and sat up for many nights to embellish them with their own designs.

"We use colourful gemstones and the more expensive ones are original Swarovski crystals," Maryam said.

Sourcing their gemstones from a wholesale souq, the final product did seem to feature a bit much bling for older tastes, but had unsurprisingly found enormous appeal among the younger teens.

Sold out
The girls made 30 caps for men and 60 for women and have even secured a few orders that should keep them busy for at least a couple of weeks. Costing between Dh75 and 160, they should also bring them a decent amount of pocket money.

"The men's caps are sold out, but we had more macho symbols for them, like tigers, skeletons that were handpainted," Maryam said.

Next door is a stall with four young men that was primarily exhibiting and selling bangles from Pakistan. "We also have pretty jewellery," they say just before I inform them that I'm not a potential customer.

"Women shop more than men and we thought we'd target them," said Rohit Nair. With all their products imported straight out of Pakistan, the boys ensured they eliminated any transport overheads as one of their relatives was asked to bring them.

Adding that it was quite a lucrative stall considering the coversion rates were favourably disposed towards them, the boys said that pretty faces definitely got a discount.

United front
Clearly defining their roles into accounting, marketing, sales and stock-keeper, the group of two Indians and two Pakistanis put up a united front. "There's no scope for political rivalries here. Not when there's money involved," they said.

However, it was definitely the handmade offerings that were a big hit - for the simple reason that customers valued the effort and exclusivity behind the products.

Roller Coaster, a stall from Dubai College, were selling velvet coasters with simple embellishments that were selling at Dh40 or Dh45 for four depending on the amount of crystals used.

The trio of Noor Khan, Siddarth Cidambi and Samar Kazranian worked on 250 pieces over a period of 2 months and were pleased that on the last day of their stall, they had only 120 left to sell.

They claimed collective credit for the idea and said that after experimenting with different materials, they zeroed in on velvet because of its rich look and versatility.

"We had to make sure it didn't just look good so we used thick card to make sure it was sturdy enough," said Khan.

"And we needed to make sure that it was able to absorb different liquids so we spilt many things like orange juice, water, coffee and tea and found that it was easy to wipe off and didn't stain," said Cidambi.

Popular colours
Then when it came to the aesthetic appeal, Kazranian explained that they went in for four colours that they thought were popular with houses in Dubai.

"We saw that the coasters in furniture stores in Dubai, were pretty drab so we worked a lot on the way it looked," she said.

Some clever traders decided to tap into their parents' networks to source their products and made a decent killing off them.

Anika Ambotty of the Dubai Modern High School said they were bringing in "original branded perfumes and then selling them at subsidised prices".

"It's much cheaper than other stores and it's the real thing," she said. Her stall Mystique also had pashmina shawls that are generally available in Karama for Dh10 priced at Dh20. And they were selling.