Enterprise Day, which took place on Wednesday 19 October, brought together 12 schools
across the KE Foundation to inspire them to become budding entrepreneurs and
develop key employability skills. With a focus on social enterprise, it included talks
from very high profile entrepreneurs.
CJ Lloyd Webley, a multi-award winning writer, social entrepreneur and champion for
young people opened the talks. As the Founder of the Black Pounds Project, CJ has
helped over 1.5k entrepreneurs access business or financial support, and has created a
bespoke mentorship programme for start-ups. He spoke of how anyone can utilise their
passion and skills to set up a business, citing his love of acting and writing at school,
which spurred on his enterprising ventures. The next speaker was Caragh Bennet, co-
founder of the Zena Brand – a socially responsible jewellery brand supporting female
entrepreneurs in Uganda. She highlighted the importance of hard work and
perseverance, saying that if you have not had ‘no’ said to you enough times, you haven’t
tried hard enough. The final speaker was Demi Mae Yip, a former student at KEHS.
She spoke about DMYbyDMY, a sunglasses brand popular with many high profile
celebrities. During her stimulating talk, Demi described the processes involved in
setting up a business, including market research, finance, manufacturing, and
After the talks, students participated in a fun Dragons’ Den workshop where teams of
eight were challenged to develop a new business in the space of a few hours. This
workshop prepared students well for a post Enterprise Day fundraising initiative that
the Zena Brand has set for all teams and we look forward to judging their
Overall, the day was highly rewarding, inspirational and very informative with the
added bonus of being able to collaborate with pupils from other schools in the KE
Below are some of the reviews written about Enterprise Day by students in attendance.
“CJ Lloyd Webley, a politically, environmentally and ethically sensitive personality and advocate for the youth of Birmingham, started off Enterprise Day with eye-widening illustrations of his childhood, descriptions of dreary pasts and a step by step answer to the secret of how to be a successful solopreneur. Among CJ’s many accomplishments, he has facilitated creative writing workshops for disadvantaged children and has very charitably fundraised to buy school equipment out of his own pocket. He strives to champion the mental health of young black men in all his endeavours which entail of exciting escapades to the Great Western Arcade where his own popup store is situated, objective driven projects like his direction of the illustrious LightPost Theatre, and the promotion of inclusive entertainment with a diverse target audience and theatre company such as his play ‘Constructed’ at the Birmingham rep which highlighted the need for more mental health services. One of his biggest feats being the foundation of the Black Pounds Project CIC in 2022 which has helped over 1000 Midland based businesses start from the ground up, all show his breadth of character and hope for humanity, enlightening us with the mindset one must have in order to even attempt to dip our feet in the cold forbidding ocean that is business.
During the coffee and refreshments break, we managed to get a chance to speak to this forward-thinking, distinguished and inspiring young individual. Many complex, well structured questions were thrown at CJ and yet he managed to tackle each and every one methodically and resolutely. Here is a transcript of the Q & A:
Q: There is a phrase that you might know that goes “It is not what you know, it is who you know.” CJ, you mentioned in a video addressing your Black Pound’s Project CIC campaign that 1 in 3 business owners fail because they are solopreneurs and are not connecting with the right people or getting out into the right spaces. What do you personally perceive is the best way to connect with fellow entrepreneurs, get recognised and acknowledged by the titans and veterans in the business community/industry and how do you at the same time, maintain public interest and awareness in your product/organisation?
A: Well, it is all about what you are trying to do to market your product/service and how you are doing it. Most times, business owners are not utilising social media exposure or forming bonds with their competition and are instead making enemies. Although it is vital to differentiate those you can trust from those you cannot and to keep up with the ever changing trends in today’s society, it is also extremely important to socialise with your target audience and business community. In the Black Pound’s Project CIC campaign, we introduce up and coming entrepreneurs to each other, exchange contact information between companies and stockholders to encourage the economic growth of our member’s businesses and teach a wide range of skill sets to help tackle and charter the stormy seas of commerce. You are completely right that it is “who you know” that shapes your repertoire but it is key to remember that it is also “what you know” as the tricks of the trade and know-how to marketing that are essential in business.
During his talk, CJ talked about the value of audaciousness and taking calculated risks, that research and validating the need for your business gives you an edge in an overcrowded market, understanding that people as well as opportunities come and go so you need to know when to take them, that good mentors will help you to understand your own value, and believing in yourself, forging your own identity, knowing your skill set and learning how to flex are some of the most important things to value as a solopreneur. We learnt so much in the span of half an hour that it is unbelievable how much knowledge and experience we gained from these few interactions, so all we can really convey is our utmost gratitude for this invaluable opportunity that CJ Lloyd Webley made possible.”
“KEHS alumnae, Demi Mae Yip, founder and CEO of DMY by DMY, the British eyewear label, delivering timeless, trans-seasonal eyewear loved by global style icons Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber, Hailey Bieber, Kourtney Kardashian (just to name a few) delivered a motivating presentation to Year 9 students across the King Edward VI foundation regarding her business. Demi established her brand in 2018 at age 21, with sustainable design in mind. The sunglasses are handcrafted from the world’s finest Italian cellulose acetate – a plant-based plastic that’s durable, lightweight, and hypoallergenic. The brand’s timeless silhouettes are uniquely nostalgic, drawing on classic styles from bygone eras to create contemporary trans-seasonal favourites.
During her stimulating talk, Demi described the processes involved in setting up a business, including market research, finance, manufacturing, and promotion. Her objective was to create high-quality yet cheap eyewear. She had to conduct extensive research on all aspects of the industry because she had no prior design or business expertise. She showed us the value of being resilient and attentive to our surroundings—striving to discover practical answers when unforeseen challenges arise. She also taught us to embrace failure as a necessary part of the learning process and to keep our eyes open for new opportunities.
To benefit marginalised populations, the DMY by DMY provides 1% of all sales to Women for Women, a foundation that assists women war survivors in rebuilding their lives. Today, the brand can be found in over 45 retailers around the world, including Selfridges, Urban Outfitters and more. Overall, Demi’s session provided us with valuable insight into what entrepreneurship involves and we all enjoyed her talk.”
“The principal activity of the day was the Dragons’ Den- style workshop, led by James Merry. Pupils were organised into school-based teams and were then tasked to develop and pitch a new business idea. This was followed by a crash-course in starting-up, pricing, marketing, financing and pitching a business idea. Teams were allocated 30 minutes to brainstorm an idea (be it an invention or innovation) market it and devise an advertisement together with “a memorable jingle and slogan”. James guided us through the advertising process and demonstrated how to appeal to a specific target market.
We were further taught the importance of stage presence, and how to effectively communicate a concept to an audience. Elements of teamwork, decision making, and effective communication were all incorporated in the day’s activities.
Fourteen teams were split into three heats, and each team presented their business ideas to a panel of judges. Three teams: Powcher (KEHS) KOS (Camp Hill Boys) and Myriad Sports (KES) were shortlisted as finalists. However due to time constraints the competition could not be taken further and therefore there were three winners. Prizes to the winning teams were presented by Old Edwardian Demi Mae Yip, the founder and CEO of the sunglasses brand DMY by DMY, whose products have been worn by global style icons, such as Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber, Kourtney Kardashian, The Hadids and more!
Overall, the day was highly rewarding, inspirational and very informative. Thank you to Mrs Sangha for a valuable experience and all the guest speakers and schools. Congratulations to the three winners!”