Entrepreneurial young Merthyr traders man festive Cardiff pop-ups


The College Merthyr Tydfil learners join students from around South Wales to run pop-up festive market in Welsh capital 

Having completed a series of entrepreneurial challenges throughout the autumn months, six students from The College Merthyr Tydfil joined 36 students from colleges around South Wales to put their commercial skills to the test by operating a number of pop-up Christmas market stalls in Cardiff city centre on Thursday December 15th.

The ‘Trading Places’ initiative, which is run by First Campus and Big Ideas Wales, saw the budding entrepreneurs take over a unit in the Morgan Quarter and set it up as a festive marketplace in which to sell their own carefully selected products to the public.

The group of six joined participants from Bridgend College, Coleg Gwent Coleg Y Cymoedd, Cardiff & Vale College, and St David’s College, who were selected from 120 students at the Enterprise Skills Day event at Cardiff City Stadium last month. At the day-long training camp, the wannabe moguls impressed the judges with their keen business acumen, and all received training and mentorship from some of Wales’ most successful start-up entrepreneurs, many of whom serve as Big Ideas Wales Role Models.  

It is hoped that the practical experience gained at Enterprise Skills Day and the Trading Places pop-up market will give the college goers the confidence to explore entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

A UK award winning project, Trading Places has also helped inspire a change in business strategy for the privately owned Morgan Quarter, who have hosted previous Big Ideas Wales events.

Morgan Quarter director, Rory Fleming, said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome back another group of young entrepreneurs for Trading Places, for what has been

“Partly because of such initiatives, we’ve opened up a number of permanent short-term trading spaces in the Morgan Quarter, which we hope will meet the demand for a more fluid entrepreneurial climate.

Ryan Bagshaw, a participating student from The College Merthyr Tydfil, said: “It’s a nice environment because it’s quite fast paced and you learn quickly. We’ve also been able to put a twist on Christmas themes and use our creativity and presenting skills.”


Christine Bissex, Head of Enterprise and Employability at The College Merthyr Tydfil, said: “Trading Places is a unique opportunity to prepare our students for the world of employment and self-employment, while also honing their transferable key skills like teambuilding and communications that employers need.”


A graduate of a previous Trading Places event, Lee Williams, 25, who established the award-winning cleaning business, Maid in Wales, in his native Merthyr, said: “The knowledge and practical skills I developed at Trading Places was invaluable to my evolution as an entrepreneur. It is really encouraging to see such programmes in action in Wales – inspiring the next generation of Welsh entrepreneurs, and equipping them with the practical experience of running their own enterprise.”


Sponsored by NatWest and EE, the Trading Places initiative ultimately seeks to hone the ambitions of budding young entrepreneurs, like Lee Williams and act as a catalyst to turn business ideas into viable start-up opportunities. In the week leading up to trading day, both NatWest and EE ran a series of business workshops with participants in preparation.


Oliver Watts, Chairman of NatWest's South West and Wales Regional Board, said: “At NatWest we really want to motivate and inspire the next generation of business leaders and we are delighted to be working with all the partners led by First Campus to help find and develop the budding entrepreneurs that could potentially have a vital role to play in the future vitality of the Welsh economy.”


Tony Jenkins, Head of Planning at EE, added: “We are excited to be part of this amazing project for the 3rd year. It is already proven to be an incredible opportunity for our staff to engage with the local community and support the ambitions of both faculties and students.


“We look forward to putting this year’s group through its paces and smash last year’s revenue and profit results.”


First Campus, the South East Wales Reaching Wider partnership, raises the aspirations and Higher Education awareness of learners through activities and workshops which take place at Higher Education institutions.


Big Ideas Wales forms part of the Welsh Government’s Youth Entrepreneurship Service. Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund it helps young people aged between 5 and 25 to develop business ideas and entrepreneurial talent.


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