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Summer Start-up Week helps hundreds of students become entrepreneurs



500 students, college leavers and graduates with entrepreneurial ambitions from West Wales and across the country took part in a free online Summer Start-Up Week to help get their business ideas off the ground.

The sell-out Summer Start-Up Week took place from 8th – 12th June and offered five days of inspiration, learning and networking to turn ideas into businesses, social enterprises and freelancing careers.

The Summer Start-Up Week was launched collaboratively by all Welsh colleges and universities to ensure young people separated by social distancing could join a virtual start-up community and continue to develop their ideas. This included Aberystwyth University, Coleg Sir Gar, Coleg Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire College. A group on Facebook formed from Summer Start-Up Week now has over 250 like-minded members who will continue to support one and other through their business journey.

With a mix of daily live webinars and active Q&A sessions, the week covered relevant topics such as market research, finance, digital marketing and networking, helping participants to develop skills and gain information and contacts to turn their ideas into viable businesses or social enterprises.

The week drew on the business expertise of academic staff and featured experienced entrepreneurs and business experts, including Lee Sharma from cloud-based software platform Simply Do, Tracey Smolinski, founder and managing director of Wales’ leading independent business network, Introbiz, Town Square Spaces founder Gareth Jones and Katy Hayward from honey farm and education centre Felin Honeybees.

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said: “The fact this Summer Start-up Week was able to take place virtually during these most challenging of times is a demonstration of the exceptional collaboration which takes place between our educational institutions and our service providers.

“That it was also sold-out is a testament to the budding entrepreneurial spirit and flair our young people have here in Wales, even in these extremely challenging times.

“The event will have given students and graduates invaluable access to inspiring success stories and expert advice, as well as a valuable peer network for the future.

“I hope it helps all those who attended to realise their business ambitions now and for the future.”

Apprentice winner, Alana Spencer from Aberystwyth, owner of Ridiculously Rich confectionary business, featured as part of the entrepreneurial line up, alongside a host of Welsh entrepreneurs.

Supported by the Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales service, part of Business Wales to encourage youth entrepreneurship, the week featured talks from the network of entrepreneurial Role Models. These business owners from across Wales shared inspiring stories and practical advice to help others understand the business start-up journey.

Role Model Clare Ferguson-Walker, from Carmarthen, owns CFW Designs, and make and sells paintings, sculptures and ceramic art globally.

Clare said: “It’s great that these events are taking place to help nurture entrepreneurship in Wales.

“I am an artist, primarily a sculptor and at the start only intended on selling a few of my pieces. I didn’t have a bigger game plan than that, but before I knew it I was running my own business.  It was challenging to begin with, and I learnt so much in the first year. Through sharing my experiences, I hope it has inspired other budding entrepreneurs that setting up their own business is well within their reach.”

Emma Forouzan, chair of Summer Start-Up Week: “At universities and colleges in Wales, we see first-hand the exceptional entrepreneurial minds of many of our students, and we’re continually looking for ways to nurture and support those students with strong business ideas. In this climate, it’s important for ambitious young people with a business concept to think about their options and take time to learn from experts and the business support available to them.

“During the week I was impressed with active participation of the students, with 100’s of students at each session, they questioned, shared knowledge questioning and sought , sharing knowledge and gleaning advice from experienced business owners as well as linking into the fantastic introducing them to the start-up support network available here in Wales.”

Following the week students will speak with their assigned Entrepreneurship Champions from their college or university and access ongoing support and advice to help them pursue their ambitions.


Carmarthenshire hometown heroes & lockdown legends sought for 2020 National Lottery Awards



The National Lottery Awards 2019 winners on stage, including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson from Wales, the first ever recipient of The National Lottery's Lifetime Achievement Award.

THE National Lottery is searching for your ‘hometown hero’ or ‘lockdown legend’ as part of the 2020 National Lottery Awards.

This year the annual search for the UK’s most popular National Lottery funded projects will, for the first time, honour individuals who have made an extraordinary impact in their community, especially those who have adapted during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

New figures reveal more than £3.2 million of National Lottery funding has been invested in good causes in Carmarthenshire in 2018/19 alone.

A total of 158 National Lottery grants were awarded in the region during the previous financial year, providing vital support to arts, sports, heritage and community projects.

From today, The National Lottery are calling for nominations of people who have done amazing things with the help of National Lottery funding and are an inspiration to us all.

Winners in each category will receive a £3,000 cash prize for their organisation and a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy.

Jonathan Tuchner from The National Lottery is encouraging the people of Carmarthenshire to make their nominations.

He said: “The National Lottery continues to have a positive impact on life across the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players thousands of projects are making an incredible difference to their local communities.

Now, more than ever, people have rallied together, and individuals are performing inspirational acts and extraordinary endeavors to help in cities, towns and villages up and down the country.

Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK amid the coronavirus crisis. People have used National Lottery funding in amazing ways during these challenging times. We want to honour them as part of this year’s National Lottery Awards and recognise their selfless dedication and thank them for their fantastic work.”

Encompassing all aspects of National Lottery good causes funding, the 2020 National Lottery Awards are seeking to recognise outstanding individuals in the following sectors:

And there will be a special Young Hero Award for someone under the age of 18 who has gone that extra mile in their organisation. All nominees must work or act for a National Lottery funded organisation or have received National Lottery funding.

To make your nomination for this year’s National Lottery Awards, tweet @LottoGoodCauses with your suggestions or complete an entry form through our website . Entries must be received by midnight on 19th August 2020.

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Chancellors economic update includes VAT cut for hospitality sector, and customer discounts



The Chancellor had set out his coronavirus recovery package today.

Rishi Sunak set out the measures in his summer economic update in the House of Commons on Wednesday (Jun 8), as he faces pressure to assist those who are most vulnerable to the financial crisis.

The Chancellor said he will cut VAT from 20% to 5% for food if people eat out to help those businesses which he said had been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The chancellor announced discount to encourage people to eat out in August.

He says restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels as well as other attractions will be able to claim the money back within five days. It had been reported he was considering giving all UK adults a £500 voucher to spent with companies hit by coronavirus, but the Chancellor has decided not to go ahead with that proposal.

Instead Sunak announced a discount worth up to £10 per head for eating out in August. He said his final measure has never been tried in this country. It is an “eat out to help out scheme”, offering customers as discount worth up to £10 per head when they eat out from Monday to Wednesday in August.

Speaking in the Commons today, he said: “Our plan has clear goals, to protect, support and retain jobs.”

Regards furlough scheme, he said it must wind down, adding: “flexibly and gradually supporting people through to October” but that he is introducing a bonus for employers who bring staff back from furlough.

Employers who bring someone back from furlough and employ them through to January, paying them a minimum of £520 a month, will receive a £1,000 bonus.

He says that “in total we have provided £49bn to support public services since the pandemic began”.

He added: “No nationalist can ignore that this help has only been possible because we are a United Kingdom.”

Mr Sunak says the UK economy has already shrunk by 25% – the same amount it grew in the previous 18 years.

He also announced:

A £2bn kickstart scheme paying employers to take on unemployed 16 to 24 year olds for a minimum of 25 hours a week – he says the Treasury will pay those wages for six months plus a sum for overheads. He says there is no cap. This will apply in England and Wales.

VAT on food from restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels will be cut until January 12 from 20% to 5%
Funding for apprenticeships and traineeships in England, there will be a separate announcement for Wales.

£1bn for the DWP to support millions of people back to work through Job Centres. A £2bn green homes grant in England to cover two thirds of the cost, up to £5,000, for energy efficient home improvements. Again the Welsh Government will have their own proposals on this given time.

A temporary cut to stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland.

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Calls for Amman Valley rail line to be mothballed



CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL today passed a motion tabled to investigate the opportunity to mothball the Amman Valley rail line until a Metro for the region can be established.

With the Amman Valley Railway line coal transportation coming to the end of its life, Carmarthenshire Council agreed there should be a feasibility study of the railway line, to see if we could do a modern environmentally-friendly green railway. The modern rail bus would connect the Amman Valley and the Gwendrarth Valley with Llanelli and Swansea.

This motion follows on from a motion tabled by Carmarthenshire Council nearly three years ago on the need for sustainable, environmentally-friendly and cheap public transport within Carmarthenshire, under the umbrella of a Swansea Bay Metro.

As part of the discussion, it was revealed that a feasibility study into the Swansea Bay Metro has now moved to Transport for Wales for competition after a delay in its competition.

Cllr Rob James, Leader of Carmarthenshire Labour, stated: “Like many communities in Carmarthenshire, residents in the Amman Valleys are unable to catch a bus a lot of time, when they do they realise the costs of ticket and it’s our town centres that are suffering as a result.

“There is a need arising with opencast mining ceasing in the near future to mothball the Amman Valley railway line until plans can be furthered on the Swansea Bay Metro proposal.

“We know from experience that attempting to bring lines back into use after years of neglect is extremely costly and as a result, makes infrastructure projects, such as this, less desirable for Governments.

“We cannot afford to sit on our hands and hope others will pick up the slack if we are to sort out public transport in Carmarthenshire.”

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