Skip to content

Jessica Kelly and Ayoup Jarrai wowed judges with their company, The Goat Tree, a co-operative in Morocco producing 100% pure argan oil, which they import and bottle. The win means that they will travel to Oslo to compete against the best of Europe’s young entrepreneurs with the chance to win £20,000 to support their business.

Both Directors have many connections in Morocco and 20% of profits go to fund the education of Berber women, who are working in the co-operative, most of whom cannot read or write. The Fairtrade co-operative will produce sustainably sourced 100% argan oil with no additives. Their idea is to re-invest profits back into to the farm where the argan kernels are cold-pressed by a stone mill. With donkeys being the main mode of transport in Morocco, Jessica and Ayoup are looking to plough profits from the business back into the animals’ wellbeing and improving the lives of members of the co-operative in Morocco.

Earlier this year, The Goat Tree swept the board at the Young Enterprise Student Start-up Regional Finals. Not only did it win Best North West Student Start Up in the regional finals, it also won Best Trade Stand and Managing Director, Jessica, was named North West Enterprise Student of the Year.

Jessica is studying the Global Entrepreneurship and Business Management degree, which involves planning and setting up a business in the second year of the course and enlisted the help of her Moroccan friend Ayoup, who is studying International Business with French, to help materialise the business start-up. 

Jessica said: “I couldn’t believe we won. I was not expecting that result at all because the competition was stiff and they were all very viable business propositions. I think we have a unique offering that cannot be copied, encapsulating different cultures and human needs across the globe. I can’t wait for the next stage of The Goat Tree’s journey and really understanding the mechanics of running a company.

Ayoup Jarrai said: “Winning the national final means a lot for us because representing the UK at the European final in Oslo is the recognition of a year of hard work in between our studies; setting up the company and various trips to Morocco in order to meet the people involved in our co-operative.

“I believe that having the chance to take part of the European final is a great opportunity to reach a broader audience and share with them our amazing product and our ambition of educating and giving a better quality of life to the people involved in our co-operative. Because my mum was illiterate, simple daily activity was very difficult for me and my family and I had to teach myself how to be independent from young age in order to help my mum and support her. Going through this hard period of my life, it motivates me even more to try to do my best in order to change the lives of our Berber women by commissioning tutors to teach them how to read and write and basic financial management.”

The students were steered to success by Dr Connie Hancock, Head of Department, Enterprise, Leadership and Management in the University’s Chester Business School. She said: “Jess Kelly and Ayoup Jarrai have worked tirelessly with skill and diligence to bring their enterprise The Goat Tree to fruition. They have won investment from Santander, secured private investment and attracted business mentorship. These hugely talented Enterprise students were selected to represent the North West at the Young Enterprise UK Finals in London and competed alongside some brilliant young entrepreneurs from universities up and down the country. They came out on top, winning the opportunity to represent the United Kingdom and the University of Chester at the European Young Enterprise Student Start-up in Oslo. 

“This accolade is outstanding and testament to the work they have undertaken establishing their business, which produces argan oil by way of a co-operative with Berber women in Morocco. A proportion of profits goes back to the female producers to support their education and development. Jess and Ayoup are inspirational in their approach to conducting sustainable business and the global potential of the business has been recognised and rewarded and as their tutor, I am so proud of all of their achievements.” 

Andrew Firr, UK Start Up Manager, said: “I was thrilled to see The Goat Tree from University of Chester won this year’s Young Enterprise UK Start Up Programme. The University has been a key partner for Young Enterprise, and indeed one of the first to bring the programme into curriculum back in 2013.

“This has been a wonderful journey to watch the students come through Internal, Regional and National Finals Level, to now compete against some of the most Entrepreneurial Universities from across Europe.

“This will be an experience like they could never have imagined. The competition will be fierce, but the UK is determined to bring home its first winning team since 2012. Best of the luck to The Goat Tree!”

Share this content