Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Farmers Taking Up the Business Challenge

Rhys Rosser is part of the Young Farming Community in Wales and he's appearing in the BBC's Junior Apprentice.
Alan Sugar is putting young people through their paces and making them complete business tasks to see if they've got what it takes to become his young apprentice.
The Young Farmers Groups in Wales already do a lot to help young people with business and public speaking skills, but the YFC chairman for Wales wants to make the charity run more like a business. I met up with Nia Lloyd who told me about her vision for the future.

" We're working at the moment with the Welsh Assembly to establish an entrepreneurial competition to encourage the YFC clubs throughout Wales to look at themselves rather than just as a charity where they need to fund raise through sponsorship, to consider themselves more as a business social enterprise, so that's the idea of the project."

Social enterprises are businesses that have an environmental or social focus. The money that is made is put back into the business to develop it further. A sustainable model that can help the community. Nia has been holding meetings with experts so she can set up a Dragon's Den scenario where young farmers can pitch their business ideas. After going though an initial business workshop on June 26th, the final competition will take place at the Royal Welsh Show in July. The winning team will get to develop their business further and even meet the First Minister. An exciting time for young farmers. They can push themselves and work in groups to build creative social enterprises.

Young Farming Business by bribriwilliams

Social Enterprises have long been helping rural communities, so what inspiration can young farmers take from the social enterprises that are already up and running.
Trevor Stringer is the founder of Work On Farms. A social enterprise that links unemployed and disadvantaged people with work on farms. The idea is that farms provide a different kind of workspace for people where they can build confidence and learn new skills. Many of the people involved in the scheme aren't from farming backgrounds, so it's also a good opportunity for them to experience a different way of life.

" We can offer practical skills that will help people get employment. We've been supported by the local communities and the farmers...they've adapted to whoever we have sent to the farms."

John and Ann Rees are farmers that have been involved in Trevor's project. They've had people on their farm to help with their free range egg business. John and Ann have had to be patient and learn how to cope with a wide variety of people, from those who come from abusive families to recovering drug addicts, but they said it's all been worth it.

" You can see their confidence building. One lad we had couldn't even look you in the eye when he first came, but gradually his social skills improved. If farmers have the time, they should think about getting involved."

Work On Farms by bribriwilliams

The benefits of social enterprises are plain to see and after visiting a group of young farmers it seems they are keen to build on their business skills. Farming is evolving and the next generation of farmers will have to adapt to consumer demands and be able to manage their farm efficiently. Farming technology is always improving so young farmers need to be computer literate and have all the other expected skills of a farmer.

The average age of a farmer in Wales is over 50, so maybe Nia's vision of turning the Young Farmers Clubs into businesses, is a way of encouraging and nurturing an entrepreneurial change in farming. Maybe Rhys can inspire other young farmers to push themselves to their creative limits. Wales will be watching to see if this young farmer has got what it takes.

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