2009 Grad - Blessing
By Blessing Maregere, Envision Grad
Young entrepreneur Blessing Maregere runs two businesses, while studying Enterprise and Development at Huddersfield University. His hard work and enterprise has won him the attention of Richard Branson and a whole host of achievement awards and last year he published his first book called 'Who said you can't be young and successful'. You can find more about all his enterprises at www.blessingm.com
The Envision experience
I’ve always been interested in volunteering and I thought Envision was a different way of volunteering. Because it allowed you to start your own projects on things that you’re passionate about. And I thought – I’m gonna go for it. It’s not easy to start a new project, but I wanted to take that challenge. Our project was about employment for young people. We wanted to do something that would connect employers with students.
Even though our Envision project didn’t succeed in the way we wanted it to, I learned a lot about project management skills, cos I was the team leader for the project. It’s not easy to manage a group of 8 people and motivating them to keep going to do the work and do the planning. I also learnt a lot about event management, as we were putting on an event where we had to plan workshops, find employers to come and get the students to come.
Basically from running the Envision project I got the experience to develop myself as an entrepreneur. I think, without the experience of volunteering I would not be running these two businesses I run now. It made me believe I could do it.
Setting up Bright Futures
I’m involved in running two businesses - I had to use my experience from Envision, which was starting a project from scratch, developing ideas and getting recognition. One of them is called Bright Futures Enterprise, which follows on from what we were trying to do with our Envision project. We’re there to inspire and educate young people to become entrepreneurial. We’ve run events and offer mentoring and coaching to young people and to help them get into business.
The other business I run is called Not Just a Youth Enterprise, which is a Fair Trade brand of rice, coffee, tea and chocolate, which we sell to local businesses in Leeds. We’re hoping to go into retail sometime soon – we’re in talks with a big supermarket at the moment, to see if they’re interested. Fingers crossed we’ll be in before the end of the year.
The challenges I faced in my Envision project taught me to be creative when trying to solve a problem and that really helped me in these two businesses.
Like, when starting Bright Futures we had problems finding work experience placements for students, so we had to find another way to create those opportunities for students. We came up with this idea called entrepreneur shadowing – which is about putting young people in touch with a business person, who they can shadow for a period of time. to see how they can start their own business.
The opportunities as an Envision Grad
My Envision project was over 3 years ago, but I stay in touch as an Envision Grad. There are some great opportunities available as an Envision Grad. Being one of the Envision Special Advisors, I’ve had the opportunity to sit on interview panels to hire new Envision staff, I’ve been an inspirational speaker at events and I can still get support, advice and contacts if I need it.
I think Envision has really developed me as a person and I think staying on as an Envision Grad brings more opportunities and equally, you can develop your own opportunities through getting involved with Envision. It’s about me speaking to the Envision staff and seeing what’s available and seeing what I can do.”