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Skinners’ Academy wins Enterprise Challenge 2015

They came up with a system whereby students can donate spare change to a nominated charity from electronic currency Jonathan Freeman June 19, 2015: One of the flagship events in the Mosaic calendar is without doubt the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge Grand Final. After months of preparations, regional heats and tireless work from mentors, students and staff, we made it to the Grand Final. Held at...

They came up with a system whereby students can donate spare change to a nominated charity from electronic currency

Jonathan Freeman

June 19, 2015: One of the flagship events in the Mosaic calendar is without doubt the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge Grand Final. After months of preparations, regional heats and tireless work from mentors, students and staff, we made it to the Grand Final. Held at the offices of one of our many supporting partners, international law firm Hogan Lovells LLP, this year’s Enterprise Challenge Grand Final did not disappoint and was the strongest and most competitive in the seven-year history of the competition.

The winning team with Claude Littner from The ApprenticeFor those who don’t know the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge, generously supported by the Apax Foundation and Nectar Trust, it is a fully immersive, business-basedannual competition for secondary school students across the UK, designed to develop and encourage their entrepreneurial skills. At the heart of the Challenge is the business simulation model developed by Totem Learning.

This year’s Challenge was nothing short of exceptional. It brought out the best in the UK’s young business brains ably supported and encouraged every step of the way by their enthusiastic mentors.I never fail to be amazed by the standard, which just seems to improve year on year, and having had close dealings with the judging panel for 2015, chaired by the formidable Claude Littner from The Apprentice, they were not only astounded by the quality of the pitches but also the confidence on display and the brilliant business ideas put forward by these ambitious youngsters.

Five schools each proudly representing a different area of the country pitched their hearts out in front of a capacity crowd. It’s impossible not to be impressed by the confidence on show from the students, some as young as 14. And it got me thinking about why initiatives such as this are so important in helping to nurture business talent and giving young people the opportunity to shine.

An experience such as the Enterprise Challenge is one which truly engages the student, helps them to think from a business perspective and to develop, so that when they do step out into the big wide world they are not completely thrown by the tasks they are being asked to perform.

The4,000 students who participated (not just the ones taking part in the Grand Final itself) have been through an incredible process involving pitching, idea generation, elimination or getting through to the next round. Experiencing success and failure. This cements the idea that business is tough and can be competitive, presenting situations where they have to do their best, reveal their personalities and put their grey matter to the test.

Mentoring is crucial in this process. Having a skilled mentor, someone with only the mentee’s best interests at heart, is massively valuable. It’s also a two-way process – the mentor through engaging with young people and understanding them, can derive a great deal of personal satisfaction and the mentee benefits from sharing the thoughts of someone with experience in a particular field or just life and business in general. Done in the correct way, mentoring is greatly beneficial to both parties.

The real skill of a good mentor comes in understanding where the mentee is coming from, why they’ve gained a particular view of life, business or people. The mentor’s role is undeniably a difficult one and this is why picking the right one is so crucial. A mentor must be skilful, knowledgeable and have experience in equal measure but in addition to this, must also know how to relay that experience so that it registers.

This year’s Enterprise Challenge Grand Final was won by Skinners’ Academy in Hackney. Their winning business concept was iRoundUp’, an ingenious yet simple system whereby students can volunteer to donate spare change to a nominated charity from electronic currency stored on their ParentPay school identity cards. The cards enable parents to pay for school meals and trips via online transactions. The students are already in talks with ParentPayto introduce the scheme in thousands of schools already using the system around the UK. We are all waiting to see what happens with this hugely exciting opportunity, which shows just how well the mentoring process can work if delivered properly.

We’re already building up momentum for the Enterprise Challenge 2015/2016. If you would like to help inspire and guide young adults to help them reach their potential and would like further information about mentoring or any of the Mosaic programmes, please call 020 7566 8734 or email: mosaic@bitc.org.uk

Jonathan Freeman is Managing Director of HRH The Prince of Wales’s charitable mentoring initiative Mosaic

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