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Enterprising students raise cash and learn skills in pop-up shop challenge

Graduates from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) raised money for charity and learned the skills needed to start a new enterprise when they opened pop-up shop for a day at Highcross shopping centre, writes Jack Brooke-Battersby.

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Together with Spring to Action, a Leicester company that specialises in helping start-ups, the graduates - part of DMU’s Graduate Champions Scheme which aims to help graduates into jobs - ran four separate businesses in the Wotspace building on Shires Lane.

Among the companies in the store were the #RememberMe team, who set up a photography business with to "capture important moments of people’s lives." All sales of their Polaroid pictures went towards charities which help Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers.

Zubair Satwilkar, who came up with idea of the photography campaign and whose uncle was recently diagnosed with dementia, has been running the #RememberMe business with fellow DMU graduates Samana Moosavi and Chelsea Munyuki.

Zubair said: “With the recent diagnosis of my uncle this all feels very personal to me, he’s something of an inspiration to our family and it made me want to raise money and awareness. Photography is brilliant for achieving that because it allows you to capture those memories which we sometimes take for granted.”

Samana added: “We come along to learn everything we possibly can about starting a business, we get to give something back to the community while also getting valuable experience in areas such as logistics, marketing and people skills.

“For DMU graduates struggling to find jobs the place to go is definitely back to the university, they love to help graduates looking for advice and they help you find experience which is ultimately going to help with looking for employment.”

Kate Cowan, director of Spring to Action and a DMU graduate herself who studied Performing Arts and Arts Management, was full of praise for the students and for the scheme itself.

She said: “They’ve all been really inspiring, they have brilliant business ideas and they’re doing really well with understanding important things like legal structures, taxes, positives and negatives of starting a business and the importance of market research.

“It’s a real credit to DMU because they invest heavily in the employability of their graduates, it’s not just about giving them a degree.”

Kash Khunkhauna, co-director of Spring to Action, added: “It’s all about getting the experience of running a business, it’s an excellent programme and they’re all positive and motivated to make it a success.”

The Graduate Champions’ stores managed to raise almost £400 for their selected charities on a successful opening day that will have given them valuable experiences in their endeavours to become young entrepreneurs.

DMU Graduate Champions offers recent graduates the chance to take up a paid with a leading UK business to enhance their CV and help them stand out from the crowd in a furiously competitive jobs market.

Posted on Wednesday 4th February 2015

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