Budding entrepreneurs from across the UK will be showcasing their skills at the finals of a business competition next month.
The University of South Wales (USW) Making Business Happen Awards are being held on March 22, when the winner of the Aspiring Entrepreneur Award, which is sponsored by NatWest, will be announced.
Now in its second year, the competition gives student entrepreneurs, future business owners and social entrepreneurs the opportunity to operate in a real-world setting and prove their abilities. Open to school or college students undertaking a level 3 qualification – such as AS/A-levels, BTEC National Diploma Level 3 or Welsh Bacc – individuals or groups of up to five people need a business idea, or solution to a problem in their own community or the wider marketplace.
The 10 finalists this year come from across the country – from Oldham to Huddersfield in the north of England, Leicester and Dudley in the Midlands, Cardiff and Llandovery in Wales, and Somerset in the South West.
The winners will receive £3,000, shared with their school or college, along with legal, financial and business mentoring and support from the USW Business School.
The runner-up will receive a share of £1,500 along with support from the USW Business School, and third place will receive a share of £500 as well as a package of support.
Last year’s Aspiring Entrepreneur Award was won by Edward Shorney from Bridgend College, whose website GoRookie connects employers with the best new talent in their industry.
Professor Jonathan Deacon, at USW’s Faculty of Business and Society, said:
”The finalists in the competition have come up with some fascinating business ideas – from make-up through to technology, support for disabled people to online shopping, and food sales to plumbing.
“What it shows is that young people not only have the imagination to come up with some amazing ideas, but also the expertise needed to carry these ideas through to fruition, and to take them to market.
“As a university that focuses on entrepreneurship, engagement and employment – which this competition brings together – we are delighted the competition has received such strong entries, and that future entrepreneurs are showing what they can do.”
Cheryl Gourlay, Regional Enterprise Manager for NatWest, added:
“The inaugural Making Business Happen Awards last year were a huge success and NatWest is delighted to be sponsoring the awards once again.
“Recent research released by NatWest suggests that nearly half of Britons who are not already say they would prefer to be self-employed, and a record 27% say that now is a good time to start your own business. But the number of people actually taking that leap has fallen.
“There is a persistent gender gap in attitudes and action towards starting a business. Men are more likely than women to judge that now is a good time to start a business, to want to start-up and to be doing so.
“Young people have been consistently more positive about entrepreneurship than older people. Those aged 18-30 are markedly more likely to be starting their own business and to say that now is a good time to do so. They are also more likely to have positive attitudes about future entrepreneurial activity.
“Initiatives such as the Making Business Happen Awards are a vital part of the entrepreneurial landscape, celebrating those who are already on the road to success and encouraging those who are taking their first steps on the journey. We look forward to hearing lots of inspirational stories from this year’s awards entrants.”