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Social Enterprise Programme 2024 puts entrepreneurship into practice for local sixth form students

Social Enterprise Programme

The Social Enterprise Programme 2024 programme, which has been highly commended in the Financial Times (FT) Responsible Business Education Awards 2024 in the 'Best responsible teaching resources: innovative materials with a financial sustainability focus' category, is led, designed and delivered by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship and the Henley Enterprise Lab.

Following the success of the programme's first run in the 2022/23 academic year, the programme launched its second iteration by expanding the cohort from 24 to 30 sixth form students (15 girls from the Abbey School and 15 boys from Reading School) and from six to 10 mentors from the University of Reading Entrepreneurship Society.

By providing an education and a collaborative network, the programme aims to empower youth to support local communities in the Reading area. This is done through the principles of people, planet and profit that are key to social enterprises, for the benefit of all stakeholders involved.

Sixth formers participated in a combination of lectures held at Henley Business School (led by Dr Amal Ahmadi, Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour and Programme Academic Lead) and workshops held at the Abbey School (led by Charles Lovibond, the school's Head of Careers and Futures and Head of Business Management).

Topics covered in the workshops included how to establish a business, how to prepare financial plans and how to pitch for funding, with appearances from specialist speakers including Jurek Sikorski, Director of the Henley Enterprise Lab, Anna De Amicis, Lecturer in Management and Media, and numerous external speakers.

At the programme's finale, teams of sixth formers competed in pitching their social enterprise ideas and business plans to a panel of judges. Teams received feedback from the panel to help strengthen their ideas and the finale was an opportunity to win awards and funding to deliver sustainable social impact.

The five presenting teams were Blob-able (a card game aimed at involving children in discussions about mental health), Book Nest (a redistribution scheme for textbooks from people that no longer need them to address education inequality and sustainable learning), MindFULL (a journal to help teens navigate the mental health challenges of exam stress), Nutrision (an app to improve the food shopping experience of visually impaired individuals) and reVOLT (a series of recycling bins for batteries and other e-waste). Awards were given out to all teams, with MindFULL receiving £1,000, Blob-able receiving £700, Nutrision receiving £500, Book NEST receiving £400 and reVOLT receiving £200.

The team of student mentors that offered guidance to the sixth formers throughout the programme was led by Ellen Whysall (BSc Business and Management). The other mentors were Sam Hirsch, William Haresceugh (BA Entrepreneurship), Emily McStravick (BA Business and Management), Urvaksh Bagwadia (BSc Finance), Angel Seaman (BSc Business and Management), Rahma Derrar (BSc Consumer Behaviour and Marketing), Viktoriia Chyp (BSc Architecture), Kumar Rohan (MSc Management) and Mostafa Vahedi (PhD in Management - Marketing and Reputation).

Speaking after the Social Enterprise Hub Finale 2024, Dr Amal Ahmadi said:

"It is incredibly rewarding to witness how passionate students and mentors are about making a difference toward a better future for our communities and planet. Social innovation ideas presented this year showcased the role of youth in developing impactful ideas to drive positive change and tackle some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges of our time."

Published 31 May 2024
Department news Entrepreneurship

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