Two of the UK’s most prominent food entrepreneurs are hoping they’ve helped to cook up some Jamie Oliver’s of tomorrow, in a business competition designed to develop young entrepreneurs – the Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge.
Shazia Saleem, founder of iEat Foods, and Vivek Singh, one of the UK’s top chefs and founder of London’s Cinnamon Club, were on the judging panel of the regional finals of the competition – which took place at Ernst & Young during Responsible Business Week.
Hundreds of students from schools across Greater London have been competing in the Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge since January. Supported by local business mentors, they have learnt to establish and run their own business through their participation in a real-life business simulation game. The five highest scoring teams – from Brondesbury College, Crest Boys’ Academy, Oaklands School, King Solomon High School and Heston Community School – went through after beating down the competition from other students in London.
Vivek and Shazia are part of a growing number of London entrepreneurs backing the initiative – a flagship programme of Mosaic, an initiative of Business in the Community. The HRH The Prince of Wales backed scheme aims to teach young people from disadvantaged backgrounds entrepreneurial skills through mentoring, and raises their aspirations by exposing them to positive role models.
Roohi Hasan, a producer at ITV, compered the event, which saw Vivek, Shazia and other local entrepreneurs treated to Dragon’s-Den style pitches from the 5 teams, before selecting a winner. They were impressed by Brondesbury College whose team of budding entrepreneurs pitched the idea of a revolutionary app for parents, teachers and students.
The App would replace paper based school diaries with e-diaries, so that homework would never to be missed and parents would be kept fully informed of their child’s attendance, grades and important announcements. The App would also feature interactive fun weekly quizzes and create healthy competition enabling students to excel.
Shazia Saleem, whose launch of the first ever Halal ‘British favourites’ ready-meals range in Sainsburys was one of the largest in UK history, said:
“I’m so impressed with how Mosaic’s programmes have helped to develop the skills, business acumen and confidence of these young people – I am sure that they will go on to do big things – the future of the UK business landscape will be much more exciting with talent like this contributing to it!”
Vivek, who co-founded award-winning restaurant the Cinnamon Club in 2001, and is now a regular on UK television programmes including BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and Celebrity Masterchef, added:
“I was truly impressed by the business ideas the 5 teams had come up with, I wish there was something like this initiative when I was younger to teach me the pitfalls of business!”
Mike Barry, director of sustainable business (Plan A) at Marks and Spencers, also gave an inspirational speech at the event.
Student and member of the winning team at Brondesbury College, Ikhlas Qazi, said:
“The Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge has been fantastic – it’s really helped us to visualise how businesses actually work in the real world, and we’ve got to liaise with real life business people. We’re ecstatic we’ve won the regional heats and are really looking forward to smashing the national Grand Finals!”
Shahied Yousaf, a teacher at Brondesbury College, added:
“The competition is a fantastic initiative that has inspired our students at Brondesbury College. It has enabled them to take the skills they have learned in the classroom and see how they translate into the real business world via an exciting simulation game.”
The winning team will now participate in the high profile national Grand Finals event taking place in London in May. Here they will deliver their final Dragon’s-Den style pitch for a chance to grab the £2,500 cash prize for their school, and £500 seed fund to start their business.
The Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge is the flagship programme of Mosaic, an initiative of Business in the Community. Mosaic aims to raise the aspirations of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, through exposure to mentoring and positive role models. Each year, the organisation supports over 1,200 students in the region through its primary and secondary school mentoring programmes.
The competition is co-sponsored by the Apax Foundation, and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) as part of its commitment to enable people able to realise their potential to get on in life, irrespective of their background.