HSBC and the British Council officially launched their joint project ‘HSBC Youth Enterprise Awards’, which is in its third year, on Thursday 15 August at a press conference. ‘HSBC Youth Enterprise Awards’ presented by the British Council is a business plan contest aimed at recognising and supporting young entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka to start-up their businesses.
The competition is open to Sri Lankan postgraduates, undergraduates and students aged 16 to 26 years representing universities, private higher education institutions, technical and vocational institutions and professional training bodies in Sri Lanka. Students are encouraged to submit their business ideas as individuals or in teams under any of the given industry categories: creative industries, tourism and hospitality, information technology and telecommunications, engineering, agriculture.
A judging panel will select the most innovative and feasible business plans through a screening process, which will include interviews with the individuals/teams during which they will be evaluated on their business ideas.
As of previous years, winners of the ‘HSBC Youth Enterprise Awards’ will receive cash prizes as seed capital to support the establishment of their businesses. This year, the winning individuals/teams for each category will receive Rs. 500,000, the first-runner up will receive Rs. 200,000 and second runner-up will receive Rs. 100,000.
Each winning team/individual will have to take part in a mentoring program organised by the British Council and HSBC. This programme is aimed at nurturing and guiding the students from an idea stage through to the implementation stage of their start-up businesses. The cash prizes will be awarded to the individuals/teams in phases, upon successful completion of the tasks outlined by the mentors during the mentoring program.
HSBC CEO for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Patrick Gallagher, said: “This is a great opportunity for HSBC to connect with the new generation of business leaders. In fact, many previous entrants have even gone on to have successful careers and established commercially viable businesses. The competition sets student teams real-life business challenges and helps further our commitment to helping young people reach their potential; therefore, we encourage more participants this year.”
Addressing the gathering at the launch, British Council Acting Country Director, Harriet Gardner, said: “The British Council is an organisation that strives to create opportunities for people worldwide. Our joint project with HSBC helps us do exactly that. We are proud to launch HSBC Youth Enterprise Awards, presented by the British Council, for the third consecutive time in Sri Lanka. With Sri Lanka prospering, we look forward to receiving quality applications from all-over the island which will help nurture healthy competition among aspiring young people.”
Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Dr. Sunil Nawaratne, was also present at the press conference. He endorsed the business plan contest saying, “Sri Lanka needs job givers. We need entrepreneurs. The British Council and HSBC are jointly doing a great job in supporting young entrepreneurs and I wish them all the best for this great event. I encourage all students interested in starting up their own businesses to participate in this competition and take a step closer in realising their dreams.”
The British Council has pioneered a number of initiatives to promote graduate entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. By working closely with the Ministry of Higher Education, University Grants Commission, vice-chancellors and lecturers in Sri Lanka and the UK’s entrepreneurial universities, the British Council is helping to develop policies and programmes to develop entrepreneurship education within universities. A successful example is ‘IDEATORS – Next Generation Entrepreneurs’, a reality-TV enterprise competition organised by the British Council that has created mass-scale awareness about the importance of entrepreneurship education in Sri Lanka.