Over 300,000 young people across Wales have been inspired to follow entrepreneurial ambitions through Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales service in the last 5 years.
The youth entrepreneurship service has met this extraordinary milestone through its Role Model Network. Entrepreneurs across Wales, have joined the Big Ideas Wales Role Model network to share their experience with budding entrepreneurs through workshops, with the aim of opening young people’s minds to new ideas and opportunities that exist and help them think positively about their own future.
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy said: “I am delighted to hear of the success of the Big Ideas Wales programme reaching this significant milestone of inspiring so many young people. By investing their own time in our communities across Wales, our Role Models have inspired the next generation of entrepreneurs and helped them on their entrepreneurial journey.
Entrepreneurs themselves are best placed to inspire others and I value their time and engagement in igniting the entrepreneurial culture in Wales.”
The most recent milestone of engaging 300,000 young people is the equivalent of reaching over 300 young people every school day for the last 5 years.
Annette Gee, owner of Taskforce Paintball was one of the first 50 entrepreneurs to join the programme over 20 year said: “It has given me great joy to be a part of the role model network for so many years. Seeing young entrepreneurs develop their ideas and confidence spurs me on to keep delivering guidance and inspiration to a new generation of young people.
I am so proud to be a Big Ideas Wales role model and to see that as a network we’ve reached the milestone of engaging 300,000 young people is a real success I am glad to be a part of. The last 12 months has been a difficult period as a business owner, but knowing I have a platform through Big Ideas Wales to help budding young entrepreneurs keeps me positive.
It has also been a great boost to have been successful in the Economic Resilience Fund. It will not only help secure current jobs but allow us to expand and increase our staffing levels.”
Since the project started in January 2016, Big Ideas Wales has supported 402 young entrepreneurs in starting their own business, and has delivered in all secondary schools across Wales.
Some of the young entrepreneurs in North Wales who have benefitted from the Role Model Network in finding out about Big Ideas Wales are two 20-year olds from Anglesey who have created a clothing brand inspired by the Welsh language and their coastal surroundings.
From what started as a Sixth Form project to come up with a business, two friends Sion Emlyn Davies and Sion Owen, created their brand Dillad Arfordir Clothing in the summer of 2019. Big Ideas Wales’ Role Model Gaz Thomas delivered a talk at their school, briefing them on the business project and first introducing them to the service.
The pair first heard about Big Ideas Wales through one of its free award events, Big Ideas Celebrated, which was hosted at Bangor University where Sion Emlyn Davies studies. Speaking about the event, he said: “When we attended the event, we had only just started at that point so it was really useful to hear from individuals and already established businesses about their ideas and products.
“We competed against great individuals and companies and even picked up the Best Business Skills Award which really got our business going. After winning, we had local radio and press waiting to know the story of the business that had started in a classroom.”
Since the pandemic hit, Dillad Arfordir Clothing is one of the many businesses that has benefitted from having an online presence, with the company achieving a higher volume of sales at the end of 2020 than in previous years. Talking about working through the pandemic, Sion said: “While certain parts of the business have been interrupted or completely halted because of Covid, it’s been a huge relief having the support of Big Ideas Wales throughout it all. There’s always someone on the other end of the phone ready to give guidance and put us in touch with other business owners who can help us.”
Ken Skates continued: “When I learned about Sion’s journey into business, it was clear he is an extremely motivated young entrepreneur who has turned his drive and passion into a business. I hope he will go on to inspire many other young people through his involvement with the Role Model Network.”
Since first discovering Big Ideas Wales, Sion Emlyn Davies has trained to become a Young Ambassador. This has seen him give numerous presentations both in person and online, and he’s even gone back to his Sixth Form in Anglesey to give a talk to the students undertaking the same business plan project that sparked the birth of Dillad Arfordir Clothing. Not only was he once one of the budding entrepreneurs himself, but Sion has been sharing his experience and success through the Role Model Network contributing to Big Ideas Wales engagement of over 300,000 young people.
Big Ideas Wales, part of Business Wales and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.