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Wales’ Entrepreneurs key to economic recovery

Written by on 8th November 2021

More people in Wales are starting a new business venture and seizing the economic and lifestyle changes that have been driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething revealed today as Global Entrepreneurship week gets underway.

Latest figures show that since March 2020, the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service has provided advice and guidance to 3,020 individuals thinking of starting a business, which supported the creation of 1,556 new businesses in Wales. This included 324 entrepreneurs, that were previously unemployed, who started a business with financial support through the Start-Up barriers grant.

This follows the announcement last week that Business Wales has supported 25,000 jobs in Wales’ SMEs since 2016.

To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, Business Wales and partners in Further and Higher Education will be offering over a 100 events targeting people across Wales to start a business.

The Welsh Government is also committed to encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship among young people – and to develop their interest in business start-up. This is part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to deliver the Young Person’s Guarantee – with the option for young people to access support to create their own business.

Big Ideas Wales – part of Business Wales – provides dedicated support for young people, where a network of over 400 Welsh business owners inspire the next generation as Role Models. They have shared experiences through workshops with over 310,000 young people under 25 and helped over 3,000 investigate their ideas and get help with their plans, since 2016.

In the last year alone, the service has supported Georgina James, 25 from Torfaen, who launched her own active wear brand and dance fitness classes to empower young women; Olaitan Olawande, 21, from Bangor and her public speaking business that raises the confidence of young people; and Tom Lancaster, 22, and Emily Stratton, 25, from Aberystwyth who have launched a mountain bike tourism company in the Dyfi Valley.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Although the pandemic has been very challenging for many start-ups, we’ve also seen that it has been a period of reflection, and with changes in lifestyle and the economy we are now seeing an increase in start-up figures.

“Part of my vision for moving the Welsh economy forward is geared towards creating an economy where more people feel confident about planning their future in Wales thus supporting job creation and more dynamic local economies. My ambition is to make Wales a place where more young people feel confident in planning their future here. You don’t have to get out to get on, make your future here in Wales – and our entrepreneurs play a key part in this vision.”

Another young person that has benefitted from the service offered by Big Ideas Wales is Lydia Hitchings, 24 from Cardiff, a swimwear designer whose designs have been worn by stars of the Channel 4 reality show Made in Chelsea.

Putting her Cardiff Metropolitan degree in Textiles to good use, Lydia began Rosy Cheeks, to design on-trend prints for her bespoke bikinis from her bedroom, between a part-time receptionist job and training with the Wales National Netball team.

Lydia developed her ideas as a final year student with support from Cardiff Metropolitan and also accessed support from Big Ideas Wales to create her business plan, with regular one-on-one meetings with a business adviser who is on hand to offer advice and guidance.

Speaking about the support she received, Lydia said:

“Starting a business in lockdown was definitely a challenge at times but one that was made easier knowing that Big Ideas Wales was a phone call away. For anyone with a business idea, no matter how well developed, it’s invaluable support. Having belief in your ideas can feel daunting at times so with Big Ideas Wales on hand, you’re able to hone your entrepreneurial skills and get the right advice. I’d really encourage anyone with a passion or business idea to get in touch with Big Ideas Wales and go for it.”

Anyone with an interest in starting their own business should visit Business Wales Starting up and Business Planning | Business Wales (gov.wales) for ideas and advice.  The Business Wales service is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.