Small businesses are often referred to as the ‘backbone of the UK economy’, helping to encourage growth, create jobs and drive innovation. In fact, small firms in the UK account for 99.3 per cent of all private sector businesses, 48 per cent of private sector employment and 33 per cent of private sector turnover.
No matter how big a business may get, however, they all start life in the same way: with a great idea and a motivated entrepreneur who’s ready to bring that idea to life.
The SKILL! programme, which was created by Patrick Philpott, Founder & Managing Director of Visionpath Education, aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, giving them the skills and experience they need to succeed. Since 2013, Aldermore have been hosting SKILL! workshops around the country, taking young people from a number of schools and challenging them to develop an original business idea, which they then pitch to a panel of business experts in the ‘Tigers’ Cage.’
The purpose of the programme is to help young people develop an understanding of how a business works, developing vital skills and increasing their future employability.
Business ideas from previous years have included an app to encourage children to brush their teeth, a renewable energy system powered by the weather, a bottle that purifies unclean water and many more.
This year, young people from Manchester, Peterborough and Reading have come together with mentors from Aldermore to unleash their entrepreneurial talents. From these original workshops the best eight ideas were selected to receive weekly mentoring, allowing the teams to prepare more detailed business plans. These plans will be presented to the Tigers, led by Aldermore CEO Phillip Monks, in a grand finale at the London Stock Exchange on Friday 20th November, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The winning team will receive a prize of £1,000 to put towards their own enterprise fund.
Impressing the Aldermore mentors
As the weeks have passed, the Aldermore mentors have been increasingly impressed with what their teams have brought to the table. Sales Support Team Leader, Ricardo Velazquez commented: “As a mentor, this is a very valuable experience. I try to influence their mentality to always give their best on what they’re doing and it’s very rewarding to see certain individuals shine through their hard work and positive attitudes.”
Regional Sales Manager Gemma Baston noted: “The students are learning a lot of important life skills through participating in the programmes including listening to others ideas and being able to consider others’ ideas and how they can work together. Learning how to present effectively to an audience is a skill that will help throughout their education and into adult life.”
As well as life skills, the students have been developing vital business skills, Julie Carlile, Mortgage Engagement Manager, Commercial Mortgages added: “Giving the students the opportunity to put a business plan together gives them a real insight into the world of money and finances outside their standard learning environment.”
And it’s not just the young people who have benefitting from the programme, with the mentors also taking key learnings away, with Caroline McDonald, Head of Content Marketing adding: “Taking part in this programme has enabled me to actively manage specific areas of development I wanted to improve. It’s far exceeded my expectations and I’m as nervous as the kids are about the final – but I know they will do well.”
We’d like to wish good luck to all of the SKILL! teams as they get ready to step into the Tigers’ Cage! You can follow the teams’ progress to the final on Twitter.
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