New venture to put young entrepreneurs on the road to business success

From left: Paula Basnett, Sandra Kirkham, Jonathan Quinn

A team of experienced business experts are combining to help young entrepreneurs get their ventures off the ground.

As the region begins to count the cost of the coronavirus pandemic with thousands of jobs already lost and yet more predicted to come, young people are being given a chance to create their own livelihoods by becoming their own business owner.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy concept, to be piloted on Wirral, is the brainchild of Sandra Kirkham, an entrepreneur whose vision for a robust economy has always focused on unity in local communities, with business leaders using their expertise to set young talent on the road to employment.

She has teamed up with two other well-known local business leaders, Paula Basnett, chief executive at Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Jonathan Quinn, managing director at Wirral-based Quinnovations.

All three entrepreneurs are passionate about making a difference and are giving their time freely to see this project succeeds.

Sandra said: “Parts of Wirral, Birkenhead in particular, have a disproportionate number of disadvantaged young people who have always faced barriers to employment. The jobs situation is bad and sadly could get worse.

“The talent, skills and new ideas are out there – all it needs is to be noticed and for those who want to carve a career for themselves by running their own business to have the right people behind them to turn a dream into reality.

“It’s a case of capturing the vision then, with guidance, putting it into place.”

To kick-start the pilot project, young people from Wirral who have ideas for their own business, but need help along the way, are being called on to record a brief video about themselves and their plans ahead of discussions with a panel of local entrepreneurs who have “been there and done it”.

They should be aged between 16 and 24, have a passion to succeed, believe in their ideas, be open to feedback, be prepared to learn about business and to work tirelessly on their ideas.

In return, they will receive practical help, advice and guidance in essential areas such as finance, tax and VAT, marketing, new technology, company law, recruitment and they will be matched with experienced entrepreneurs who may ultimately look to invest in their businesses in the future.

Sandra, named as one of the UK’s most inspirational leaders with her inclusion in the acclaimed national list of Faces of a Vibrant Economy, said: “I constantly hear about young people who have a passion for music, dance, technology, health and fitness, food, fashion, hair and beauty and believe they can make a living out of things they simply love to do.”

Jonathan added: “I was pretty much like them when I started my business journey – I had the ideas but hadn’t a clue about business ethics or putting something like a business plan together.

“I would have benefited immensely from this type of support and this is where we can succeed with our disadvantaged young people to help make them self-sufficient so that, once they become established, they can begin to employ others and start to turn the wheels of the local economy.”

The current UK economic crisis is reported to be pushing an additional 600,000 young people into unemployment in the current year, causing long-term damage to their pay and future job prospects.

Paula is only too aware of the impact of these statistics on the local economy, and said: “By learning how to create their own business, they’ll be taking small steps to turn their passions and interests into money-making concerns and create their own prosperity.

“By taking control of their own destinies, their hard work and ingenuity will help to keep alive their own Wirral communities which have been so badly affected over the years by recessions and unemployment.”

The trio are also looking for experienced entrepreneurs willing to have a practical input and happy to give their time into supporting young people with their new ventures.

Their role, as experienced entrepreneurs, will be to professionally connect with the aspiring business owners and share their knowledge and business journeys with them.

Sandra said: “Wirral has a strong network of professionals operating across many different fields whose knowledge is going to be vital in giving these young people the confidence to start out on their own.

“I’m sure many will identify with their own very early start-up days and will be able to relate to the ups, downs, passions and problems of the road leading to success.”

Applicants should send the videos of themselves and their business ideas by email to

Experienced entrepreneurs can use the same contact address.

The closing date for round one applications is Friday, August 28.