Azhar Siddique, the boss of Manchester catering equipment supplier UK Equipment Direct, is backing a project designed to help young students set up businesses.
Siddique has made a personal investment of £25,000 to ‘the BIG Idea’ programme, which intends to help bridge the gap between education and employment.
Siddique was a contestant on this year’s series of The Apprentice and his investment will go towards developing ideas generated from young individuals into real business ventures, which could include things like pop up coffee shops and remote catering trailers.
Participants will be encouraged to take their business ideas to market and gain vital skills, with each case documented as a video diary for other youngsters to take inspiration from.
“I understand how difficult it is to start a new business in this current economic climate. I also understand what impact the recession is having on the next generation of young entrepreneurs and the future of the UK economy,” said Siddique.
“We have a huge pool of bright, young and ambitious people, eager to start new businesses as well as talented young people with BIG business ideas. However, funding alone won’t help, young people need the confidence and mentoring to able to achieve their potential and succeed — the BIG Idea programme is aimed to provide just that.”
The initiative is expected to benefit more than 2,000 students during the next academic year based on the interest already received.
“Education establishments must be more proactive and receptive to the requirements of businesses and the constant evolution of the employment world if students are to have the best possible chance in life,” added Siddique.