Local students climb their way up the league


Aston Villa Football Club have been coaching the next generation of young business minds, through a unique partnership with Birmingham City Business School.

Premier League footballers Nathan Baker and Antonio Luna recently took their place on the Dragon’s Den style panel at Birmingham City University, where local school children pitched their business ideas for a chance to win £200 worth of ‘seed’ funding.

Local pupils, between the age of 14-16, spent months brainstorming ideas for a social enterprise business, with the help of Birmingham City Business School students and mentors Adam Freeman, Martina Aleksieva and Joshua Bentley.

Business ideas on the day included a hospital radio station raising money through advertising slots; a baking product company whose proceeds would go to help tackling homelessness in the Midlands; ‘Smooth Shakes’ a beverage company helping in the fight against obesity; and a fitness programme for youngsters which would partner with Aston Villa to help encourage youngsters to be more active.

Having impressed members on the judging panel, which included football stars, academics and university students, each team that took part in the business challenge received a cheque from Aston Villa to help pupils bring their ideas to fruition.

The Social Enterprise Academy, launched by Aston Villa in September 2013, is an innovative programme which engages young people (14-16) in the study of business by using the football club as a template.

Through the help of student mentors from the University, the Social Enterprise programme has been rolled out across two local schools; Small Heath School and Great Barr’s Q3 Academy.

In what is the first year of the programme, pupils were tasked with the job of creating a social enterprise or product, from which the proceeds would benefit either one of the club’s community programmes, charity partners or their local school or community.  The pioneering programme enables students to take the business knowledge they learn and apply it to a project that makes a difference in their own community.

The programme involves two hours a week of curriculum teaching by a dedicated Enterprise Academy tutor, including regular visits from Birmingham City University student mentors. Upon completion of the programme, pupils are awarded an OCR certificate in Business and Enterprise and a Social Enterprise qualification from the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO).

The programme is an adaptation of the Premier League Enterprise Academy programme, which was set up in 2008, as a way for football clubs to help teach local 11-19 year-olds the basic principles of business and self-employment.

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