The Accidental Entrepreneur: from Classical Civilization and Philosophy to transforming lives in Swansea and around the world

If your first thought on hearing the word ‘entrepreneur’ is Alan Sugar and The Apprentice, a talk this week in the College of Arts and Humanities gave a different slant.

Ben Clifford from Surfability CIC visited the College to work with students on a year 2 module in Business and Entrepreneuship.

Ben studied Classical Civilisation and Philosophy at Swansea and now runs a surf school for people with disabilities.  This venture has featured on Children in Need and BBC 3:

Ben’s achievement shows that enterprise and entrepreneurship can be understood and utilised in different ways.  He talked about how his love of surfing translated into a desire to open up the experience of the ocean to those who face physical and other challenges.  Driven by this goal, he developed a social enterprise that is nationally and internationally renowned, and that has tremendous transformative power for the people involved.

Ben never thought he was the sort of person who would create an enterprise, apply for and win substantial funding, become the national expert in adapted surfing and speak at major business events – but that is exactly what he has done.  He stressed that everyone has the capacity to create positive change and find solutions to problems or challenges, and there was some great discussion and ideas from students during the session.

Students on the module come from diverse subject areas, including Politics, History, Media Studies and English.  Working in teams, they are developing ideas for new ventures and building these into a pitch that they will deliver to a panel.  Ideas range from a boulder climbing wall to a social enterprise to help ex-prisoners from reoffending.  Students are working collaboratively, thinking creatively, identifying and developing ideas and opportunities and reflecting critically on their projects and their own performance.

Ben’s visit was part of the Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales programme.  Other speakers on the module have included Swansea graduate Nathan John, Rewise Learning; Nikki Giant, Full Circle Education; Ben Room, BRD Sports; and Adam Amor, Buffoon Media.

-Debbie Marshall

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