A student who set up her own business teaching children and young people about maths and science has won an entrepreneurship award from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
Jessica Okoro, a Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science student at DMU, triumphed at last night’s Pitch2Win Awards, winning £1,000 plus a package of support for her business BeScience STEM, a pioneering movement based in Leicester.
Through creative learning sessions at shopping centres, libraries and pop-up shops, Jessica and a team of volunteers made-up of students and local people, have inspired 4,000 young people with a love of maths and science and have plans to expand.
She said: “I’m shocked! I honestly didn’t think I would win. I am so pleased. Young people feel like they had to have a smart gene to do science and maths. By making learning fun and doing live experiments, we show that it doesn’t have to be boring and we can inspire them.”
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BeScience STEM runs Creative Kids Lab sessions in shopping centres such as Highcross and Brent Cross, Library Lab working with Leicester City Council to offer Saturday morning sessions. It works with DMU Square Mile, which shares skills of staff and students with the community, to get volunteers.
Jessica, along with a team of recent graduates and students, is currently in the process of organising 'The STEMsocial' conference later this year for GCSE and A-Level students, with confirmed speakers from Google, O2, Jaguar and Santander. “We want to turn this into a real Social Enterprise now,” she said ''and we definitely have a committed, driven team to make this happen.''
Pitch2Win is run by DMU’s Enterprise Team to help kick-start or develop a business idea. Monthly contests were held at DMU which awarded the winners £250 and the chance to take part in the finals and earn £1,000.
Runners-up were Mohammed Omar and Dominic Bryan. Mohammed's Eden Queen honey is going from strength to strength, selling thousands of jars of locally-produced raw honey to delis, local shops and foodie outlets. He plans to expand and eventually would like to see Eden Queen sold on the shelves of Harrods.
Dominic's UniYap was joint runner-up, offering a new way for university students to connect online. The first-year student aims to sell advertising space on the app and after starting in Leicester among its 40,000-strong student population, roll it out across the UK and eventually globally.
Judges said they had been “incredibly impressed” by the range and quality of the ideas and ventures.
Lewis Black pitched the E-Car Specialist, a dealership for people keen to buy a reliable used or second-hand electric car. He had clearly done his homework, presenting an impressive array of market research showing the expanding opportunities for his business.
Emma-Jane Rule is an award-winning DMU Design Crafts graduate who now runs her own silversmith design company, winning commissions and awards for her bespoke work. She showed designs of her fold-forming technique which produces unique, original designs.
Khushboo Raja pitched the idea of a bespoke wedding stationery design service for the Asian wedding market. Her company, Auspicious Moments, would provide a UK-based service in a market where currently, 78% of cards are bought in India.
David Howard of the Sir Thomas White Charity was on hand to present the awards. The charity gives interest-free loans to young people in Leicestershire and Rutland of up to £15,000 to develop business ideas.
He said: “I’ve been really encouraged by the approach that these students have taken to running their own business. It’s staggering the quality we have seen here at these awards.”
Speakers were former Business Venture Competition finalist Derry Holt, of Stormburst Studios, and entrepreneur and DMU Master’s student Kieza de Sousa. Derry was in the contest this time last year and gave a talk on how his business has blossomed over the past 12 months, while Kieza gave some top tips to newbie businesses. He said: “Learn something every single day – read a blog, a book, make a contact, keep learning how to move your business on to the next level.”
Posted on Thursday 5th May 2016