UWE Bristol graduate featured in University Alliance drive to increase support for enterprise

Issue date: 16 April 2013


A graduate from UWE Bristol who started a microloan charity while still at University is featured in Start Up: a story, a publication by the University Alliance and NACUE that will be launched today, 16 April, at the Houses of Parliament.

University Alliance and NACUE are calling for the Government to take further steps to support graduate entrepreneurship in the UK.

The scale of interest in, and support for, graduate enterprise is growing. Turnover from graduate start-ups has doubled from 2008-2010 to over £270m, with turnover from Alliance start-ups accounting for more than half of the total. However, we are seeing a decline in start-up confidence with 10% fewer people feeling they have the skills to launch a business and 2.2% fewer believing starting a business is a good career choice.

Vashti Seth started Deki when she was a student at UWE Bristol; she won a business competition run by the university and the charity now employs three workers to help people in Asia and Africa with small start-up loans so they can set up in business.

Vashti said, “Deki is all about a hand up, not a hand out. I was really excited when I came up with the concept for a microloan social enterprise during my second year at UWE Bristol. I wouldn't have known where to start but the advice, funding, office space and support from UWE Ventures enabled me to start up. There was so much to do – work with in-country field partners; build our lenders base; secure core funding as well as day to day running of the business. Now I employ three others and it's amazing to think that what we do is transforming the lives and communities of individuals we're working with.”

Start Up: a story calls for the Government to:

· Build stronger links between government financing for enterprise and universities, so that they are able to inform the design of schemes, such as Startup Loans, to ensure that those that would benefit from this support are better able to do so.

· Widen access to critical enterprise support available for graduate start-ups to enable enterprise growth across all key sectors.

· Target money from the new national fund for local enterprise to strengthen local networks and provision of university support for graduate start-ups.

· Proactively use and promote empty properties for the use of graduate start-ups, helping to nurture local start-ups.

· Recognise entrepreneurship as a legitimate graduate career, reflecting it more fully in employment and business data

The call to government for greater support will be made at the launch of Start-up: a story at the Houses of Parliament where the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, will be addressing entrepreneurs and staff supporting graduate enterprise.

Professor Steve West, Chair of University Alliance and Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol, said, “Entrepreneurial graduates are a huge driving force for innovation, employment and economic growth. The central role that universities and their graduates play in realising the Government ambition of an entrepreneurial society is now widely acknowledged.

“Our education system needs to foster creativity, innovation and enterprise. We need to ensure our schools, colleges and universities develop and foster creativity in the way in which we design and deliver our curricular. This will need support from Government, industry and the public and private sectors. The future growth, wealth and health of our economy will rely on our creativity, innovation and enterprising spirit which will need support to translate energy, enthusiasm and fantastic ideas into sustainable business propositions. We need a true partnership to deliver this. Not words but funding and action.”

Hushpreet Dhaliwal, Chief Executive of NACUE, said, “Student and graduate enterprise are powerful players in transforming lives and driving social change. The recognition of entrepreneurship in the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey this year is a really positive step.

“Despite the success we have seen there are challenges that need to be addressed. It's important that we look at new and innovative ways to support graduate entrepreneurs. Using and promoting empty properties and spaces for the use of graduate start-ups is just one of the many ways we can nurture local start-ups.”

Photo caption - Pictured from left to right: Paul Blomfield MP, James Whitefield (Huddersfield graduate), Guy Watts, Lizze Leary, Michael Kashioulis, Hinesh Mistry, Professor Steve West, Hushpreet Dhaliwal, Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Bill Beaumont, Neomi Bennett, Vashti Seth, Oliver Blanchard, Beth Widdowson).

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