Last year, I wrote about the Cotswold Fayre Young Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year awards. It never fails to amaze me what so many young people had achieved in their mid twenties, about the time I was just barely figuring out that I didn't want to be an admin assistant for the rest of my life. But that's not the norm any more. So many young people leave education full of ambition, determined to carve their own way in the world. Last year, the number of new UK businesses hit a record high, and more than 26,000 UK businesses are run by young entrepreneurs aged 21 and under.
Last year's winner, Jerome Jacob, started his own business at 24 - PHROOTI, a new fruit tea range that aims to reinvent fruit tea. Jerome says: “After a lot of investigation I found that most fruit teas contain about one per cent fruit. At PHROOTI our products are made up of 95-97 per cent real fruit and natural flavourings, to make a delicious, healthy and fruity beverage.”
That's where you come in. Cotswold Fayre is launching its annual start-up support scheme, now in its fourth year, which aims to help food entrepreneurs aged between 16-25 years old with financial and mentoring support to make their business a success. The winning applicant will be awarded £1,500 to help grow their company, offered the support of Cotswold Fayre's in-house designer to develop their brand identity, plus monthly mentoring sessions with Paul Hargreaves, the chief executive of Cotswold Fayre, to discuss and develop their business plan and take things to the next level.
Jerome says: “Winning the Cotswold Fayre Young Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 award has helped me achieve industry recognition, helped with my start-up costs and most importantly, gave me an invaluable mentor in Paul. In the six months since winning, Paul has acted as a calm sounding board. This has been crucial in getting my product range to market (at the moment PHROOTI is stocked in 20 outlets) and I very much look forward to the next six months of working with Paul to progress the business further.”
So do you have a burning food or drink idea you want to get off the ground? Now's your chance. Applications for this year’s award open on 1 April 2016 and close on 30 June 2016. The application form can be found on www.cotswoldfayre.co.uk. Good luck!