'Big idea' plea to young entrepreneurs in Wales

Image caption,
Sir Terry Matthews waves the European flag at the Ryder Cup, in his Celtic Manor Resort

Young people in Wales have been urged to be entrepreneurs in a campaign to inspire "the next Sir Terry Matthews".

The wealthy businessman was used as an example for the assembly government Big Ideas Wales initiative.

He owns the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, host of last month's Ryder Cup, and ministers say they want more like him to "help drive the economy".

The assembly government said the campaign would foster a "can do" attitude among young people.

In July, ministers said Wales' £240m economic development budget would focus on creating a growth environment for business rather than giving out grants.

Deputy First Minister and Economy Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones outlined how the assembly government planned to back new business start-ups and encourage entrepreneurship, particularly among young people.

He said: "Entrepreneurs are the drivers of the economy.

"One in seven of the Welsh workforce is self employed and this number is increasing.

"Those who take the step to create and build businesses ensure jobs and prosperity for the country.

"The stark fact is that if Wales is to create a strong, growing, economy we need more of our young people to take this step.

"We want to instill in them a 'can do' attitude to put their ideas into action.

'Embrace this agenda'

"The recent recession has hit young people hard and our aim is to encourage more young people to think about starting their own businesses.

"We want to encourage businesses, education and community groups to embrace this agenda."

The aims of the campaign include:

  • Promoting entrepreneurship in schools, colleges and universities
  • Free business start-up support and advice service for young people
  • Regional shows to inform people of opportunities
  • Linking business and academia

Figures show slightly more 18-24-year-olds in Wales (4.3%) are engaged in early entrepreneurial activity compared to the UK average (3.4%).

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said: "We need to create an entrepreneurial spirit among the pupils of our schools, colleges and universities as this group are the key to the future of the Welsh economy.

"This project is about educating people about the opportunities out there and creating the ambition and drive to succeed."

The assembly government strategy was launched at the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Newport-born Sir Terry Matthews took an electronics degree at Swansea University and went on to become Wales' first billionaire after making his fortune in the telecoms industry in Canada.

He bankrolled the successful Ryder Cup bid at the Celtic Manor Resort which saw worldwide attention focused on Newport for the golf tournament between Europe and the United States in October.

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