Academy to inspire new generation of entrepreneurs

Business trio is launching a new entrepreneurs support programme for young adults in Wirral and is also asking other successful business people to offer their help. Tony McDonough reports

Young Entrepreneurs Academy
Paula Basnett, Sandra Kirkham and Jonathan Quinn are launching the Young Entrepreneurs Academy


A new venture is offering free help and support to the next generation of entrepreneurs in Wirral.

Sandra Kirkham, a successful training and education entrepreneur, is teaming up with Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber, and Jonathan Quinn, managing director at Wirral-based innovation specialist Quinnovations, to launch the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

Aimed at would-be entrepreneurs aged 18 to 24, the academy will offer practical help, advice and guidance in essential areas such as finance, tax and VAT, marketing, new technology, company law, recruitment and they will be matched with experienced entrepreneurs who may ultimately look to invest in their businesses in the future.

To kick-start the pilot project, young people from Wirral who have ideas for their own business are being asked to record a brief video about themselves and their plans ahead of discussions with a panel of local entrepreneurs.

Sandra said: “Parts of Wirral, Birkenhead in particular, have a disproportionate number of disadvantaged young people who have always faced barriers to employment. The jobs situation is bad and sadly could get worse.

“The talent, skills and new ideas are out there – all it needs is to be noticed and for those who want to carve a career for themselves by running their own business to have the right people behind them to turn a dream into reality. It’s a case of capturing the vision then, with guidance, putting it into place.”

The current UK economic crisis is reported to be pushing an additional 600,000 young people into unemployment in the current year, causing long-term damage to their pay and future job prospects. Projects such as the academy could make a real impact.

Jonathan added: “I was pretty much like them when I started my business journey – I had the ideas but hadn’t a clue about business ethics or putting something like a business plan together.

“I would have benefited immensely from this type of support and this is where we can succeed with our disadvantaged young people to help make them self-sufficient so that, once they become established, they can begin to employ others and start to turn the wheels of the local economy.”

Paula explained that by inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs these could be a positive knock-on effect for local communities. She said: “By learning how to create their own business, they’ll be taking small steps to turn their passions and interests into money-making concerns and create their own prosperity.

“By taking control of their own destinies, their hard work and ingenuity will help to keep alive their own Wirral communities which have been so badly affected over the years by recessions and unemployment.”

The trio are also looking for other experienced entrepreneurs willing to have a practical input and happy to give their time into supporting young people with their new ventures. Their role, as experienced entrepreneurs, will be to professionally connect with the aspiring business owners and share their knowledge and business journeys with them.

Sandra added: “Wirral has a strong network of professionals operating across many different fields whose knowledge is going to be vital in giving these young people the confidence to start out on their own.”

Applicants should send the videos of themselves and their business ideas by email to and the closing date for round one applications is Friday, August 28. Experienced entrepreneurs are also requested to register their interest in the project by email to

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