A schoolboy from Turin made national headlines after he was caught selling food and drinks to his peers at cheaper prices than the school cafeteria.
The 17-year-old has received both praise and punishment for the scheme.
He started taking orders for snacks and fizzy drinks – which he bought at a local discount store – last year, and received a ten-day suspension when he was caught by a teacher.
And when staff found out that the boy, who cannot be named due to his age, had started up his 'black market' again this year, he was handed a longer suspension of 15 days.
The case made headlines across the country and provoked fierce debate, with many arguing that the teen should be lauded for his entrepreneurial spirit.
He's received a handful of job offers from startups and marketing companies, as well as a prestigious scholarship from the Einaudi Foundation, a socio-economic institute which usually reserves its scholarships for post-graduate students, which said the boy's initiative should be “encouraged, not persecuted”.
“Perhaps the small illegal businessman of today will become the large-scale legal businessman of tomorrow,” said the school's headteacher, Stefano Fava, TorinoToday reported.
Other pupils at the Pininfarina technical school in Turin, which has 1,700 students, protested against the Einaudi award.
Around 500 students gathered outside the school on Wednesday, the day the boy was due to receive his award, with banners proclaiming 'Illegality is the new high school diploma' and 'scholarships for us too!'.
Piedmont's regional councillor for education, Gianna Pentenero, said: “It's understandable that the decision to give a scholarship to the student suspended for abusive snack-selling has provoked a certain upset among his peers.
“I think it's a mistake to give a message that disrespect for the rules will be interpreted as innovative entrepreneurial skill.”