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New drive supports women entrepreneurs

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ECONOMY MINISTER, Ken Skates is calling on the business community to support a new initiative aimed at increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in Wales and providing them with the best possible support.

The Welsh Government’s new Supporting Entrepreneurial Women programme was informed by the work of a panel of experts, convened in 2017 to consider how best to encourage, develop and support female entrepreneurship in Wales.

The panel, chaired by Helen Walbey, considered an array of academic evidence and literature on women in entrepreneurship, spoke to a range of businesswomen, representative groups and partner bodies, and aligned its work with the principles of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme which is championed by Be the Spark in Wales.

The result is a new Framework for Supporting Entrepreneurial Women in Wales and a Good Practice Guide to inform how the Welsh Government and business community works to drive the number of women entrepreneurs in Wales.

The Welsh Government have also responded by publishing the Business Wales Action Plan which identifies 10 specific ways in which the Welsh Government and business community can improve. From providing more gender focussed business support and confidence building, increasing the number of female business advisors and mentors in Wales and promoting the career successes of prominent female entrepreneurs including through business awards, the action plan aims to create the right environment in which female entrepreneurs can prosper.

There is also renewed focus on engagement with women entrepreneurs to understand the barriers they face, improved availability of finance options with no restrictions that unfairly affect women, and a Good Practice Guide that encourages business support organisations to adopt ways of working that support female Entrepreneurship.

The Economy Minister launched the Framework, Good Practice Guide and the Action Plan at a celebratory event in Capital Law. This will be followed by regional events, jointly organised by the Welsh Government and Lloyds Bank, to ensure that business groups right across Wales are aware of the new resources and their role in supporting female entrepreneurship.

The Economy Minister said: “The underrepresentation of women both as business owners and at a senior executive level is well evidenced and there is no doubt the gender gap is hindering women from achieving their full economic and personal potential.

“Our Economic Action Plan focuses on creating the right environment to enable entrepreneurs to prosper and grow and obviously this must apply to women, just as much as men.

“The work undertaken by the panel of experts recognised the progress that we as the Welsh Government and business representative groups have made in recent years in supporting female entrepreneurship – but the message is clear. We must do more, and with Brexit presenting challenges of an unprecedented scale, now more than ever we need our best talent around the table.

“I call on the business community and financial institutions to work with us to adopt a more gender focussed approach to their work. I hope they will use our new Framework and Good Practice Guide to ensure they play their part in building an environment where women entrepreneurs are encouraged and properly supported to reach their full potential.“

Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip said: “All women should be given equal opportunities and representation at the most senior level. Helping to understand and remove barriers that women face in entrepreneurial opportunities will support the potential growth of women in business. Through this support, we hope women will be more fairly represented and can flourish in the business sector.

“Although, there is still so much more we can do to achieve better gender equality, this initiative will help women to achieve their full potential and to move away from the underrepresentation of women at senior roles.”

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Business

Beacon Bursary £5,000 winner named as 18-year-old Cameron Reardon

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THE WINNER of this year’s Beacon Bursary entrepreneurship competition goes to an 18-year-old who has set up an online entomology business, selling bugs and other creepy crawlies.

Cameron Reardon will receive a cash prize of £5,000, free office space for a year within the Beacon Centre for Enterprise in Dafen, Llanelli, and business mentoring support to help develop his business Bug Box UK.

The 18-year-old from Felinfoel has just completed his BTEC Level 3 in Public Services in Coleg Sir Gâr and will be studying Business Management with Marketing at Swansea University from September.

“With the money I’m going to buy a shed,” said Cameron. “At the moment my stock is in my bedroom, which my mum doesn’t like! Now I’m going to be able to increase my stock and the money will also help me go to different shows to sell.”

Cameron was a finalist in last year’s competition, and said the mentoring which comes with the prize would also be very beneficial. He added: “Last year I received some mentoring and that was amazing. It’s really opened my eyes.”

Cameron was one of five entrepreneurs to reach this year’s final and get the chance to pitch their proposals to a panel of judges including Carmarthenshire Council Leader Emlyn Dole; Chris Jenkins from Gerald Thomas Accountancy; Angharad Harding from Yr Egin and the winner of last year’s competition, Amanda Thomas from Biscuit Barkery.

All five entrepreneurs who made it through to present their business ideas at this year’s final in the Beacon Centre, were students from Coleg Sir Gâr.

Second place and receiving £2,000 and six months free office space at the Beacon, went to Dante Diana and his alcohol beverage business Oddball Moonshine.

Third place and receiving £1,000 and six months free office space at the Beacon for one year, went to Imogen Mills and her swatch fabric design business Cloth.

The other finalists were Simon Thomas with his business Particip8 and Charlotte Voaden of Charlotte Voaden Design.

The Beacon Bursary is an annual competition run by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with Coleg Sir Gâr and University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole, who is responsible for Economic Development, said: “I look forward to this competition every year. SME’s are the backbone of our businesses here in Carmarthenshire and to see the entrepreneurs come to this competition with such passion and turn those ideas into a business is a pleasure.

“This year’s standard of entries was high once again, but as judges we were unanimous that Bug Box UK is a great business idea and a worthy winner. I would like to wish Cameron, and indeed all the finalists, the best of luck in the future with their businesses.”

Amanda Daniels, Coleg Sir Gâr assistant principal said: “The development of effective Enterprise and Employability skills with learners in post compulsory education and training is so important to ensure a vibrant and successful Welsh economy.

“The Beacon Bursary has helped a number of Individuals start-up successful businesses over the last seven years.

“This year I am absolutely delighted that all three of the successful Bursary winners are Coleg Sir Gâr learners, their passion and drive to succeed is infectious and I am confident that their businesses will contribute positively to the Carmarthenshire economy.”

Roger Maidment, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) said: “UWTSD would like to congratulate Cameron Reardon on winning this year’s Beacon Bursary. UWTSD is delighted to collaborate on the Beacon Bursary which is aimed at encouraging future entrepreneurs within Carmarthenshire. As a dual sector University, our mission is ‘Transforming Education, Transforming Lives’, developing employment focused educational programmes and contributing to our vision of transforming, shaping and developing futures by stimulating economic development in the region and across Wales and beyond. Working in collaboration on initiatives such as the Beacon Bursary Award is central to achieving this as it offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their creative and entrepreneurial skills and develop real business ideas which have the potential to contribute to the economy of the region. We wish Cameron the best of luck with his business and look forward to seeing the development of Bug Box UK.”

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Business

Scheme protects consumers against rogue traders

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A NEW scheme has been launched in Carmarthenshire to protect consumers from rogue traders.

Buy With Confidence is an approved trader scheme which has been set up to wipe out dishonest businesses and assist householders to find reputable local business.

It is run by Carmarthenshire’s trading standards team and replaces the former Registered Traders Scheme.

Buy With Confidence also provides businesses with recognition of good practice and consumers with confidence with whom they are dealing.

All the businesses listed on the website have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards.

The council’s executive board member for public protection, Cllr Philip Hughes said: “To be approved onto the scheme traders have to go through a stringent vetting process which gives consumers peace of mind that traders operate in a legal, honest and fair way. I hope as many traders and local businesses sign up to this scheme to reassure people that they are the best trader for the job.”

For further info call 01554 742306.

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Business

Castell Howell Foods banks on 16 tried and trusted Mercedes-Benz Atego rigids

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PROVEN reliability and durability over a demanding working life led wholesaler Castell Howell Foods back to the Mercedes-Benz Atego range for the latest additions to its temperature-controlled fleet.

The Cross Hands-based company has taken delivery of 16 new Atego 12-tonners from South Wales Dealer Euro Commercials. All are 1224 LnR models with low-frame chassis, and S- ClassicSpace day cabs. Their 7.7-litre six-cylinder engines produce 175 kW (238 hp), and drive through Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmissions.

Castell Howell Foods’ fleet of more than 100 trucks and vans is dominated by mid-sized rigids, the majority of which wear three-pointed stars. Fitted with dual-compartment insulated bodies by Gray & Adams, and Frigoblock refrigeration units, the latest arrivals carry both chilled and frozen product.

“We’ve been running Atego rigids in a variety of sizes for 15 years or more,” said Martin Jones, the company’s Director of Transport Operations. “They’ve been an integral part of our ongoing success story, proving in service to be exceptionally tough and reliable, as well as highly competitive in terms of whole-life operating costs.

Trusted partner: Martin Jones of Castell Howell Foods knows he can rely on his Mercedes-Benz Atego trucks

“With each model revision the level of refinement and driver appeal has gone up. The latest versions are as well engineered as ever, and drive very smoothly, while smart touches like LED daytime running lights mean they really look the part too.”

The new trucks are being used primarily on distribution routes into rural West Wales. Their lower frames allow for a reduced overall height, to minimise the risk of damage from overhanging trees, but the trucks retain a load volume comparable to a standard vehicle.

Urban deliveries are typically assigned to 15-tonne Atego rigids, while the flagships of the fleet are a pair of 375 kW (510 hp) Actros GigaSpace tractor units, which trunk between Cross Hands and satellite depots in Avonmouth, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Chirk, near Wrexham, and Merthyr Tydfil, as well as a cash and carry in Carmarthen.

Mr Jones continued: “This latest acquisition further cements our already excellent relationship with Euro Commercials. Sales Executive Steve Bastin knows our business very well and understands what we need – he always handles our orders efficiently and keeps us fully informed. We have also forged a strong working relationship with the Parts and Service teams at the Dealer’s Swansea branch.”

Castell Howell Foods celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. The company serves customers throughout Wales, the Welsh borders and the West Country, and prides itself on promoting and supplying premium quality regional produce. It stocks over 10,000 catering products and is best-known for its Celtic Pride Premium Beef Partnership, a supply chain initiative launched in 2003 which now has more than 80 farmer members, all of whom follow strict husbandry and management rules. Most recently it has launched Celtic Coast Fish Co., a specialist division which provides fresh fish and seafood from around the coast of the UK.

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