Rewarding sustainable start-ups and inspiring future business founders at QE’s entrepreneurship festival

Rewarding sustainable start-ups and inspiring future business founders at QE’s entrepreneurship festival

Hundreds of sixth-formers were involved in a two-day entrepreneurship festival hosted by QE that featured a pitching competition where real money was offered to real entrepreneurs.

As well as a workshop and presentations, the festival incorporated the final of the quarterly Startup Competition run by LSE Generate – the London School of Economics and Political Science’s entrepreneurial hub. This included a Dragon’s Den-style pitching competition.

Year 12 pupils from QE were joined by counterparts visiting from North London Collegiate School. QE frequently collaborates with NLCS as part of an academic partnership between the two schools.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It was an inspiring couple of days! Hosting the event provided a brilliant way of celebrating innovation and leadership among entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, giving our boys an insight into the worlds of business and seed-funding.

“The workshop got the students working together to think about how they can empower themselves and others to solve the problems they see in society.”

The workshop was run by entrepreneur Nikita Khandwala and the LSE Generate team. Nikita, who read Spanish and Linguistics at the University of Oxford, is a freelance writer and consultant, who is also Head of Partnerships for the London Interdisciplinary School.

Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement) Crispin Bonham-Carter outlined some of the highlights of the festival and the numbers involved.

  • “Sixty Year 12 students from the two schools workshopped key entrepreneurial skills, guided by the wonderful Nikita Khandwala;
  • Six real-life start-up founders gave an inspiring after-school presentation;
  • Over 200 boys watched the pitching competition itself;
  • Another 50 boys took part in an impromptu Q&A with the entrepreneurs during the judges’ deliberations.”

Several start-ups were allocated funding, with the top prize of £6,000 going to Haja Isatu Bah, who runs Uman4Uman, a social enterprise that focuses on the issue of period poverty in Africa, providing young girls in Sierra Leone with reusable, sustainable sanitary pads.

Haja said afterwards: “It was an honour to showcase our mission and vision alongside seven other remarkable startups, each striving to make a positive impact in their respective communities.”

The £4,000 second prize went to Prakriti Gautam, who runs agricultural business Khetipati Organics, which works with smallholders in Dhankuta, Eastern Nepal, offering them fair prices, while also providing opportunities to young people. Third and fourth prizes were £2,000 apiece, with £1,000 awarded to the four runners-up.

All the businesses had to explain how they are contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The sixth-formers even had the chance to allocate some money themselves: those observing the pitches in the competition were able to put their questions to the participants and vote – resulting in the award of a special £2,000 grant. This was added to the prize money awarded by the adult judges.

This vote for the best presentation went to one of the four runners-up, The Corporate Law Academy – described as “the largest community for those entering the legal profession, with over 20,000 members”. Its founder, Jaysen Sutton, later said he was “grateful to have won audience favourite and grant funding”. He thanked the organisers for giving him “the opportunity to talk to a very engaged group of school students”.

To view photos from festival, click on the thumbnails below.