Belfast boys pegged into marquee business
Two Belfast teenagers are bucking the trend for youngsters to leave Northern Ireland and have set up their own business at home.
Northern Ireland's Statistics and Research Agency said that between July 2012 and June 2013, the younger working age population (aged 16-39) fell by 0.8% to stand at 583,800.
However, Cameron Magee and Glen Stewart, both 18 and former pupils of Royal Belfast Academical Institution, have gone into the marquees business.
They were working for Belfast Marquees as a summer job when the owner announced his retirement. Seizing on the opportunity, the young entrepreneurs decided to buy over the Duncairn Gardens-based business, taking up the reins at the start of the month.
"We both realised that university wasn't really for us and we wanted to do something different," said Mr Magee.
"We have a passion for business and we thought the opportunity was too good to pass on. I had worked for my former boss for two years and knew the ropes and so thought we would have a good idea at how to grow the business."
The pair hire out marquees all over Northern Ireland for events like garden parties, weddings, fetes, sporting occasions, community days and corporate events and functions.
Mr Magee said the purchase was financed through family and friends, as banks and funding agencies were not keen to lend to them.
He added that he understands why so many young people leave Northern Ireland.
"As two young men trying to start our own business, we feel like we did not get very much help in getting funding and finance," he said.
"There was the option to go to university, and most of our friends are going away to study or find work. However, we have a really good focus and we want this business to succeed here."