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College crowdfunding website helps students set up in business

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Entrepreneurial students are turning to the internet to fund their business ideas, as their college has become the first in the country to launch its own crowdfunding platform.

Barnsley College is the first FE college in the UK to create a crowdfunding website, which allows its students to ask members of the public to invest in their projects.

The site encourages budding entrepreneurs to put details of their business online so they can ask potential investors to donate cash to help them develop their ideas and reach their targets.

Rubina Rashid, the college's head of enterprise, said: “BCKickstart is an important way for the college to innovate and support students in developing their enterprising skills and entrepreneurial spirit. The concept of a crowdfunding-type platform allows all stakeholders including parents, guardians, staff, fellow students and community members to engage and support budding entrepreneurs and see what fantastic ideas are coming from the college.

“In the future, we hope to see the projects and students we support flourish and develop into businesses which will make a positive impact on the local economy and quite possibly employ people themselves.”

One enterprising learner hoping to use the website to her advantage is 17-year-old graphic design student Bethany Wood, who runs an online shop and design studio called Loving Dot. Bethany, whose business sells retro-style accessories including phone covers, nail transfers, pocket mirrors, pin badges and tote bags, hopes to attract £450 in funding to allow her to expand into homeware products.

Other businesses include a clothing range called Black Preme and Musical Moments, which puts on performances and offers music tuition.

The BCKickstart platform is open to students from both Barnsley College and its HE section University Campus Barnsley, as well as businesses involved with the iTrust initiative, a joint venture between the college and the Barnsley Chronicle newspaper.

The projects now have until 31 August to attract pledges and try to reach their targets through the website.

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