St Albans student ‘apprentices’ enter the Dragon’s Den

BUSINESS-minded students taking part in a charity challenge met their mentors at a recent launch party for the event.

The Dragon’s Apprentice – inspired by TV shows The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den – was held at St Columba’s College in St Albans and saw the teams of sixth formers meet their chosen charities and the local business ‘dragon’ assigned to help them raise much-needed cash.

The 12 teams of sixth-form aged students, who are from six different schools and colleges in St Albans and Harpenden, have been set the challenge of turning �100 into �1,000 for their charity in any way they choose.

They must produce a clear business plan setting out their ideas and the ‘dragons’ – including Deloitte, St Albans district council, Harpenden Building Society and Premier Foods – will provide expert advice and guidance as well as resources to help the teams to achieve their goals.

Teams will present their results to a panel of judges at an awards evening in March 2011 at the University of Hertfordshire, where the winning team will also have the opportunity to complete a work placement.

Teams from Beaumont School, Oaklands College, St Albans School, St Columba’s College, St George’s and STAGS are taking part in the challenge and their chosen charities include Herts Society for the Blind, Harpenden Spotlight on Africa and Grove House.

Last year’s pilot initiative, which involved three teams from St Columba’s College, raised �2,445 which was split between several local charities.

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Penny Mortimer, a trustee for the Centre for Voluntary Service and one of the main organisers of Dragon’s Apprentice, said: “We are delighted with the response of this year’s competition and our thanks go to the schools, charities and, of course, the dragons who are giving their time and expertise free to help our young entrepreneurs.

“The teams will get a real taste of business and have the opportunity to deal with finance, marketing and sales as they develop their own fundraising strategies and see them through.”