Business mentor award winners praised by Minister

The commitment and hard work of volunteers from the business community who work with young people setting up their own businesses were praised last night by Trade Minister Sir Reg Empey, at the Prince’s Trust Mentor of the Year awards.

Sir Reg was co-hosting the annual ceremony at Stormont, at which retired Belfast businessman, Jack Holt, received the Regional Business Mentor of the Year for Northern Ireland Award.

The business mentor is a volunteer who has experience in setting up their own company, or working within a pressured business environment.

Their role is to guide, support and provide advice to the young entrepreneur through their first years of trading.

Speaking at the awards ceremony Sir Reg said: “I cannot overstate the importance of the work of the Prince’s Trust in terms of promoting, developing and supporting entrepreneurship in young people and in developing a more inclusive society. The Trust brokers effective co-operation between the public, private and voluntary sectors effecting real impact on disadvantaged young people starting their own business.

“A dynamic business sector is a critical success factor for our economy and we need to make it easier to be in business, and to access support. We already have an extensive support structure for entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland. This includes councils, enterprise agencies, government agencies such as Invest NI and organisations like the Prince’s Trust, but we must ensure that we are working in an integrated and co-ordinated way.

“One of Invest NI’s key objectives is to promote a more enterprising culture and in this the Prince’s Trust is an important partner. Their programmes, and the work of business mentors such as those we honour tonight, play an important role in helping to nurture a culture of enterprise among young people.”

Don Walters, Chris Bannon and Harriet Hudson also received Landmark Achievement Awards, which recognise an outstanding contribution in their role as business mentors.

Top Area Business Mentor awards were presented to Margaret Craig and Bernard McIntyre.

The mentors work through the Prince’s Trust Business Programme, which helps 18-30 year olds who are unemployed or under-employed to start their own businesses

In the last two years the Prince’s Trust Business Programme in Northern Ireland has offered £812,000 in grants and loans to some 324 young people setting up new businesses.

Each new business supported by the Trust is assigned a business mentor during its critical early stages. These mentors commit three to six hours each month on a voluntary basis to provide business advice, guidance, monitoring and counselling to the young entrepreneurs.

The Prince’s Trust Business Programme is one of the core programmes run by the Trust in Northern Ireland.

It offers low interest loans, grants, mentors and other support for 18-30 year olds who want to start a business. It focuses on young people who are unemployed or under-employed and have been refused funding by other sources.


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