Harborne Academy was triumphant as five schools from the Birmingham area battled it out yesterday in the West Midlands regional finals of the Enterprise Challenge competition.

The event saw the teams present to a judging panel with the aim of reaching the National Grand Finals in London. The schools taking part included, Harborne Academy, Kings Heath Boys Maths and Computing College, Kingsbury Sports College, Sidney Stringer Academy and Grace Academy Solihull.

The Mosaic Enterprise Challenge, supported by the Apax Foundation, Nectar Trust and the Department of Communities and Local Government also benefitted from a diverse and talented judging panel from the local area, including Head of News at ITV Central, Liz Hannam and leading figures from the local financial and media sectors, chaired by Lucy Fairclough, Associate Director at KPMG.

558 West Midland’s secondary school pupils from 21 schools participated in the competition before the final five were shortlisted to compete in the regional final, which was generously supported by GibbsS3. Over 80 mentors were allocated to the teams, guiding and developing their business concept whilst improving their understanding of business in general.

For the second year running, Harborne Academy was declared the regional winner and the first announced finalist for the Grand Finals event, following a convincing presentation of their business concept, which was led by Team Community Spirit, consisting of year-10 students Sara Maroof, Jamina Hussain, Fadumo Haji-Aden, Nazanin Karchi and Malaika  Yawar. Their social enterprise, called Community Spirit, is a referral service that looks to target and employ unemployed 16-18 year-olds in the local area, whilst also addressing the needs of the community. The example of OAPs needing chores doing was cited as one benefit of their initiative. The all-girl team are now invited to attend the Grand Final hosted in London on April 23rd.

Nazanin Karchi speaking on behalf of Harborne Academy about their win commented; “The whole day was pretty nerve wracking and we really can’t believe we’re through to the regional finals, it’s so exciting! We’ve worked pretty hard with our mentor and think we’ve come up with a great idea so I think we’ve got a good chance!”

Sultan Choudhury, CEO of Al Rayan Bank and keynote speaker at the event said; “It was a tremendous afternoon. Giving children an opportunity like this can be mind blowing for them, it’s not the same as being in a classroom. We need to develop our youngster’s business initiative from an early age; allowing the pupils to spend time with a business mentor who has real experience is clearly motivating for them. They’re able to challenge not only themselves but also misplaced ideals they may have about business, learning valuable skills which would otherwise be out of reach.”