An astonishing £88,000 was raised for 69 different charities across Hertfordshire for the 2014/15 Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge, a ground-breaking competition which gives young people the opportunity to hone their business skills. Here’s how ambitious business people can step forward in an innovative Challenge to mentor budding entrepreneurial students and give back to a good cause at the same time.

The Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge works by recruiting teams of lower sixth form students from local schools who are then matched with a mentor (Dragon) from a local business in their task to turn £100 into £1,000 for a local community group or charity through a business venture.

The Challenge runs annually from September up until March, across local hubs in Hertfordshire, and is open to businesses of all sizes from sole trader to global corporation. Business people can set their sights on giving back to the local community, increasing personal satisfaction and raising awareness of their company.

The Challenge is renowned for providing a wonderful boost to schools, businesses and charities through promoting skills development and entrepreneurial skills for young people.

David McIntosh, one of the business mentors involved in the North Herts and Stevenage Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge said: “I liked the idea of working with a school and the students have certainly gained a lot from their experience which will be of benefit to them now and in the future. I will definitely be putting myself forward for the Challenge next year and would certainly encourage others to do so.”

Dragons Angels of the Barnwell School in Stevenage claimed their moment of glory by impressing the judges at a glittering awards ceremony. They impressed the judges by their impressive business plan and evidence of business skills learned throughout the Challenge.

The team spoke out after and said: “Our dragon, David McIntosh, gave us relentless encouragement to ensure we never gave up, even when some of our plans were unable to be realised. We found it important to encourage each other and that organisation was the key to success. The difficulties we encountered throughout the challenge have been a great learning curve for us all and we are extremely proud and happy to have been a part of this year’s challenge.”

Over the course of the Challenge, Dragons will be asked to commit to a minimum of three meetings with their Apprentice team and charity partner, advise and support their team on business related matters, and in producing their Project Business Plan and Final Report. At a final awards ceremony, a number of shortlisted teams will be asked to pitch their business ideas to a judging panel and be in with the chance of winning a number of awards.

To find out more about the Challenge or to register your interest visit http://dragonsapprenticechallenge.com