Social enterprise differs from other entrepreneurial units in that it aims to address a social, cultural or environmental need, and Myrrhee Primary School’s drone program is no different.
Half of the program’s profits go to Carevan, a Wangaratta-based charity that delivers food to people in need, while the other half go towards paying off the drone.
“The idea of social enterprise is to teach kids a range of different skills through running a business, and that business contributes towards a social need in the community,” Myrrhee principal Ash Graham explains.
The drone program is part of an Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) initiative that runs throughout north-east Victoria, but the specific enterprise chosen at Myrrhee is unique.
The concept was pitched and voted on by students, giving them a strong sense of ownership.
“The kids advertise for drone photography services in our local area, so they’ll go to farms or wineries or other businesses to take photos and then they sell those photos to their customers to do what they want to do with them,” Graham explains.
“So they might use them for advertising, they might use them for displays in their house or whatever...”
Graham says that there has been a recent surge of community interest.
“It’s sort of taken off over the last six months. There’s a teacher here, Jacqui Younger, and she takes the kids on site and talks with the clients and ... helps them with their communication and everything as well, so ... I think they’ve done maybe 10 [sessions] this term.”
There are less than 30 students at Myrrhee, split between two classes.
The drone program is the brainchild of the senior class, which includes students from Grades 3 to 6.
“We originally had a movie night. They put on movies for the local people in the area, because there’s no cinema out here, it’s about 50 kilometres to the local cinema,” Graham says.
The following year, the students decided they wanted to try something different.
After they all wrote and delivered their competing pitches, the drone program was born.
“So it’s all run by the kids, with our guidance. And they voted for that, but they also voted for the CEOs of their enterprise as well, so the kids have democratic sort of process in everything they do,” Graham says.
Isabella, now in Year 7, was one of the class’ CEOs.
“Once you get the hang of [piloting the drone] it’s not that hard, but when you look at it you think it’s going to be much more difficult than it actually is,” she says.
“After you do your drone test and you know how to use everything well, it’s not that hard to do, and you get the hang of it pretty easy.”
The program gave Isabella valuable entrepreneurial experience.
“[My favourite part] would probably be getting an insight into how to run a business, I think it’s really cool how you have to work out how to do everything to keep it running,” she says.
For Grade 5 student Oscar, the program’s social component stood out.
“Probably getting to meet people in the local area, as well as giving them a hand, as well as helping the local community program with Carevan,” he says.
Isabella isn’t sure if she wants to run her own business one day, but is an enthusiastic proponent of the program.
“Social enterprise has been really good for our school,” she says.
“We’ve all worked really hard together to get the business running and it’s been a great experience for everyone I think.”