Our pilot GDST Enterprise reached its climax this month with a showcase attended by over 70 students across 5 schools. Students undertook Enterprise sessions, delivered via a blended approach which included taught content in school, live online sessions, pre-recorded material, virtual speed-networking events with GDST alumnae mentors, and a live online finale.
Our pilot GDST Enterprise reached its climax this month with a showcase attended by over 70 students across 5 schools. Students undertook Enterprise sessions, delivered via a blended approach which included taught content in school, live online sessions, pre-recorded material, virtual speed-networking events and a live online finale.
‘The idea was to allow students to develop transferable employability and entrepreneurial skills by conceiving their own creative business ideas, with some input from their teachers and from GDST alumnae,’ explains Cathy Walker from the Innovation and Learning Team, who co-led the initiative with Learning and Development Manager Karen Kimura. ‘In light of Covid restrictions, we had to be creative about how we could deliver a meaningful business and enterprise experience.’
“Initiatives like this serve as a reminder to students that they can overcome daunting challenges – with the right tools, anything is possible”
This involved encouraging students to come up with a service rather than a product, given the lack of face to face contact at Enterprise Fairs, and the importance of sustainability. Teams were imaginative and ideas were wide-ranging, including an online learning platform, a wellbeing website, a virtual murder mystery evening, and online fitness programmes. Karen Kimura, who organised and delivered much of the pre-recorded and live content said of the experience, ‘I loved seeing how students went from chaotic but fun brainstorms to gather ideas, to really finding a niche in the market. They took the learning from Enterprise lessons on areas such as branding, market research and team work and really flew.’
Speed-networking sessions were held online, with GDST alumnae offering their advice and insights to students while they were in the process of conceiving and refining their ideas. Sarah Shedu, Year 12 at Bromley High was part of team Dulia who won the prize for Best Business Plan. ‘The speed networking with alumnae was very helpful,’ she explains, ‘as they gave us an understanding as to how feasible our idea was and how to improve it.’
March’s showcase event brought these ideas together, with all participants presenting their business ideas, and sharing how they overcame the challenges they encountered along the way. Teams NetWorth from Northwood College, and Decisive, from Bromley, won joint prize for Most Resilient, thanks to their tenacity and adaptability in the face of some covid-related business challenges. ‘We wanted students to develop self-awareness, confidence and resilience alongside business know-how,’ says Cathy Walker, ‘and as such always planned to award the learning and the journey rather than purely the profit.’
“Students went from chaotic but fun brainstorms to gather ideas, to really finding a niche in the market. They took the learning from Enterprise lessons on areas such as branding, market research and team work and really flew”
Jacynth Bassett, Sydenham alumna and founder of inclusive fashion brand The Bias Cut, was one of the judges at the Showcase. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed being involved with the initiative,’ she tells us. ‘As a speed networking mentor and judge, it was great to see how each business developed from the idea stage to the final business plan. I was highly impressed by the standard – being able to create such strong businesses, whilst juggling A levels and covid demonstrated a huge amount of commitment, resilience and passion!’
Jacynth was joined by Eira Culverwell, Howells alumna, enterpreneur and founder of Personal Safety and Self-Defence organisation ResolveIt, who spoke of the empowering aspect of the Enterprise project: ‘Initiatives such as these serve as a reminder to students that they can overcome daunting challenges,’ Eira explains, ‘personally and professionally, with the right tools, anything is possible.’
We are excited to be taking the Enterprise pilot forward within our new LEAD Programme in September 2021, which combines business planning with leadership preparation, ensuring GDST girls are future ready. LEAD (Leadership Enterprise Advanced Diploma) will take in topics such as reframing failure and team-building, as well as discussion of issues within the modern workplace such as unconscious bias, the gender pay gap, and shared parental leave.
Congratulations to all of our GDST Enterprise teams, who demonstrated such dynamism and energy, and thank you to our judges who, Karen says, are ‘role models of successful young entrepreneurs who have found their passion and constantly seek to make things better in their sector.’ ‘We thought GDST enterprise was a really great opportunity to develop the skills that we would not normally be able to inside the classroom,’ adds Lucy Thomas, in Year 12 at Sydenham, whose team Sendago won the prize for Most Creative Idea. ‘I do hope each team continues with their businesses,’ concludes Jacynth. ‘I only wish GDST Enterprise had existed when I was at Sydenham!’
And the winners are…
- Best Business Plan: Dulia, Bromley
- Best Presentation: Lost in Taught, Brighton
- Most Innovative Service: Apollo, Nottingham
- Most Resilient Teams: NetWorth, Northwood College and Decisive, Bromley
- Most Creative Idea: Sendago, Sydenham
- Best Financial Potential: Henagon, Brighton