An Entrepreneurship in Carmarthenshire workshop was held in partnership between the Arsyllfa project and University Wales Trinity St David on the 24th March 2019 (located on the Carmarthen campus).
The aim of the workshop was to facilitate a discussion between University’s School of Business, Finance and Management students and wider stakeholders regarding the motivations and barriers to encouraging entrepreneurship.
Before the open discussion, Wynfford James (Arsyllfa consultant) gave an overview of the project before a short session on the economy of Carmarthenshire was delivered by Four Cymru.
The presentations included mapping the main business and growth sectors of the county and introduced three examples of young entrepreneurs who have successfully set up their businesses in Carmarthenshire: Scott James (Coaltown Coffee); Liam Burgess (Nom Nom Chocolate); Hanna Symis (Sewing Circus).
Here are the main themes which were mentioned by the participants during the workshops discussions:
- In order to be successful and have a positive impact locally entrepreneurs need to understand the community and local population where they intend to set-up their businesses. Participants felt this could be seen in the case studies discussed on the day where these businesses were supporting the communities where they were based, including promoting the areas identities.
- That government bureaucracy was a barrier which stopped entrepreneurs from moving forward as a number of regulations weren’t clear enough. There was a similar feeling towards many of the ‘official’ services offered for entrepreneurs. It was felt a range of relevant information might be available but they did not feel it was easily accessible. It was also felt that the help being offered was usually from mentors with little experience of setting up their own business and therefore support had limited value.
- It was also felt that there existed unnecessary competition between support services aimed at helping entrepreneurs and therefore this added an element of confusion for individuals on who to go to for what.
- The poor phone and broadband signal is a hindrance to rural businesses as the importance of the online world is vital for businesses.
- Another obvious problem which was mentioned was that young people leave the area because of the lack of well paid jobs, with many opportunities for seasonal, part-time jobs which aren’t sustainable. However some noted that Carmarthenshire was a home to many innovative businesses that can offer well-payed jobs but there is a lack of communication regarding these opportunities. Therefore information is lost as businesses don’t seem to communicate these opportunities or that individuals don’t do enough research while applying for jobs.
- A major issue raised during these discussions was the need for a culture change in entrepreneurship. The workshop looked at the historical problem in Carmarthenshire, especially attitudes held by the older generation which felt that young people could only be successful if you went into teaching or worked in the public sector. A current aspect of this is that young people believe that they need to leave the county in order to be successful. A change of mind set is needed therefore and it was felt that the educational system had a vital role to play in this.
- Participants felt that currently entrepreneurship isn’t taught enough in school. They felt it should be mainstreamed across subjects and not just taught in businesses studies. There are also wider mechanism which can breed entrepreneurship such as through community work, many people in Carmarthenshire are already entrepreneurs without knowing, within their community but they don’t think themselves as entrepreneurs as it isn’t to do with ‘business’.
- Lastly, the workshop discussed the need for spotting potential entrepreneurs and once they are ready to start up a venture the right support is available for them. Also young people need to be given more of an opportunity to develop their ideas as many need to go straight into the workforce instead and don’t have adequate opportunity to research and develop their entrepreneurial ideas.
Following on from the discussion it was agreed that further engagement should be held. Arsyllfa is currently in the processes of arranging further workshop in order to get wider understanding of the culture of entrepreneurship in Carmarthenshire.