Some of the best, young entrepreneurial talent in the UK has been celebrated over the past two days as part of Making Business Happen awards.
In its second year, the national awards run by the University of South Wales, with the support of NatWest, focused on aspiring entrepreneurs – those in sixth form or at further education colleges who have either started their business or plan to in the near future.
I was lucky enough to be invited to judge firstly the business plans of the 10 finalists, and then their pitches in a Dragon’s Den-style scenario
Huw Richards-Price, from Llandovery in West Wales, took home the Aspiring Entrepreneur Award for his business, Local Food Initiative. Following a comprehensive and well thought-out business plan, the judges were thoroughly impressed with Huw’s passion for his business.
Shortly after being presented with his awards, Huw said: “It feels amazing. I’m ecstatic. There were a lot of amazing business ideas, and to have been chosen as the best is such a good feeling.”
The finalists spent two days at the University of South Wales’ City Campus in Newport, sampling the university lifestyle by staying in student halls and attending lectures. Describing the experience as a whole, Huw said: “I didn’t really know what to expect, but it’s been really interesting, especially the lectures – they really made us think. It’s been a fantastic experience and we’ve all met a lot of new friends.”
With a prize fund of £2,000 in his back pocket, Huw plans to finish sixth form before going full-time with Local Food Initiative before investing in transport and video editing equipment for the business.
Dr Jonathan Deacon, a professor of marketing at the University of South Wales and co-director of the Making Business Happen Awards said: “The quality of entries this year was much higher than last year. What we saw [at the pitches] was mightily impressive – if this is the quality of thinking, the level of confidence for 16, 17, 18 year olds, the ability for our nation to be entrepreneurial and to take on the rest of the world is in safe hands.
“What we’ve got to do in education, business support and the wider business community is to ensure that we continue to support and encourage young people to carry on doing what we’ve seen over the last two days.”
Eric Bishyika, who started SW Clothing at the age of thirteen, came third. He summarised what it means not just to him, but all of the finalists, to be involved with the Making Business Happen awards: “It’s a breathtaking experience. The whole journey [from applying to the ceremony] and everything we’ve seen is like nothing we’ve seen. It’s genuinely a life-changing experience to see so many inspiring young people in one room, it gives us all ideas and makes us think even further into the future. To be in the top three is a privilege and an honour and something I will remember for the rest of my life.”