Three Coleg y Cymoedd learners are one step closer to fulfilling their business dreams after securing a place on this year’s Tafflab programme – a project dedicated to supporting young people in Wales to set up their own companies.
Finn Johnson-Denny, (16), Dawn Thomas, (46) and Dewi Thomas, (19) have been selected from an impressive cohort to land a spot on the programme. They will now work directly with business mentors after receiving a financial grant to help launch their businesses and turn their ideas into a reality.
Established in 2014, the Tafflab project works to support the next generation of entrepreneurs from three FE colleges in the South Wales valleys – Coleg y Cymoedd, Merthyr College and Coleg Gwent – to set up and successfully run their own businesses. Mentors on the programme are successful entrepreneurs or business leaders themselves, and a maximum of three learners from each college are chosen for the scheme following a competitive internal application process which sees learners submit their business ideas and take part in interviews.
Alongside frequent individual mentoring meetings, the learners will also attend three group seminars throughout the year-long programme which will cover topics including branding, marketing and finance. Led by leading businesspeople and previous Tafflab alumni, the sessions are designed to help enrich their understanding of business planning and setup.
Level 3 Business learner, Finn Johnson-Denny, is one of the Coleg y Cymoedd learners selected for the programme and will now kickstart his website design and management company, FJD Design & Management.
He said: “Tafflab has not only provided me with funding that will be invaluable in helping me to get my business off the ground, but it has also opened me up to amazing mentorship from people with decades of business experience.
“Their support is enabling me to properly understand the key elements of business planning and has built my confidence in the areas I’m not so familiar with. I’d already been trading for a few months before I joined the Tafflab programme, and it’s just accelerated my progression to an extent that wouldn’t have been possible without it.”
Also taking part in the programme is Dewi Thomas, a Level 3 Computing and Information Technology learner who is receiving support to set up his furniture upcycling business, Commons Oak, and Dawn Thomas, a Level 3 Reflexology learner and the woman behind Mind & Body Consultancy – a wellness and holistic services company that offers holistic therapy and reflexology.
Speaking about the programme, Dewi said: “The mentoring I’ve received through Tafflab has helped me to prioritise and focus on what’s most important when it comes to setting up and running a business. It has provided me with the skills I need to further develop my idea into a successful company.”
Dawn added: “Being part of this programme has given me the opportunity to connect with previous members of the Tafflab cohort who understand my position, having gone through it themselves. Their insights and experiences have been really helpful, and it has been amazing seeing their positivity and support as they have championed my new businesses.”
CEO of Tafflab, Rodric Ashley, who has been working as a mentor with Tafflab since 2015 and took over the programme coordination from founder Dr. Kathy Seddon in the summer of 2022, said: “It’s really exciting to see so many creative and enthusiastic learners come through the Tafflab programme with such a keen interest in entrepreneurship and business management.
“The programme allows hopeful business owners to grow in strength, confidence, and stature, through exceptional mentoring by experienced and successful businesspeople. I look forward to seeing Finn, Dawn, and Dewi grow their businesses and skills over the coming months.”
The Tafflab programme is an annual programme, with applications opening every November. Learners can apply from any stage of their business development, whether that’s an initial idea or a current and fully operational business. For more information, visit: https://tafflab.org/
Rhondda Cynon Taff