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Entrepreneur unearths future business stars with £5 school challenge
AN ENTREPRENEUR from Marlow is aiming to unearth the next Richard Branson or Lord Sugar after running school project to get children thinking about the world of business.
Danesfield School parent and businessman Sean Collins helped run the month-long ‘Fiver Challenge’, with teams of pupils tasked with making as much money as possible in a month from just five pounds.
Money making minds in year six came up with a host of lucrative schemes over the four weeks, including a shoe shining business, custom artworks and numerous ‘market stall’ retail efforts.
And Sean insists the project fills a void in the curriculum to get kids thinking about the highs and lows of going into business alongside the traditional academic route.
He said: "It is getting them to learn about business and how they would run one. It encourages their creativity and shows them that they can do things and that it’s not an avenue closed to them in education.
"These days students graduate into careers that don’t exist and we still encourage people to go into education without a job at the end of it.
"More and more people are creating their own businesses as a solution to the employment problem. There should be more support and encouragement for that in the school system.
"Kids are natural problem solvers and risk takers and we coach them out of it. The older you get the harder it becomes. They need to know business is about risk and failure not just reward.
"£5 is not a lot of money so it forces them into thinking creatively - they’re all good building blocks for the future and for us it’s about building a community of future entrepreneurs."
Run in conjunction with Youth Enterprise, the scheme seeks to instil business skills and creativity from an early age and inspire youngsters to think outside the box in terms of career choice.
With help from year six teachers Andrea Sykes and Rebecca Atkinson, pupils made a total profit in the month of £770, which they donated to charity.
Business ideas ranged from the straightforward to the wacky, including a team making and selling their own ‘Doggie Bandanas’.
Sean started his entrepreneurial organising car boot sales while still at school, and has gone on to create and sell a travel business before starting his newest venture, online life story archive Vimoir.
And the businessman says kids need to understand the changing world of commerce early so they can make informed choices upon leaving school.
Marlow is already a hotbed of entrepreneurial talent, with start-up companies peppered all over town and success stories such as award-winning digital guru Michael Acton-Smith of Moshi Monsters fame.
Sean is part of Marlow Entrepreneurs, a social and collaborative group which acts as a forum for founders to share ideas, accelerate company and professional growth and socialise at the same time.
And the businessman said he would be keen to talk to other schools who are interested in getting involved with the project.