‘Dragons’ tackle economic inactivity

‘Dragons’ tackle economic inactivity
Sion Barry
Western Mail
A new enterprise organisation, which is being backed by the trade union movement, will be launched today with the key objective of tackling the issue of economic inactivity.

The Business Dragons – eChamber Wales initiative will be the largest enterprise representative in Wales with a combined membership of around 6,000 enterprises.

It currently has the backing of the chambers of commerce for Carmarthen and North Wales, as well as their equivalent for South East Wales, Ngb2b.

It is also in discussions with a view to the Cardiff and the West Wales chambers of commerce coming on board.

Wales TUC is backing the new organisation and its general secretary Felicity Morgan is a director of the social partnership body.

The driving force behind the organisation is to embrace enterprise in all its forms – both private and social – and to promote an enterprise sector that ‘thrives and enriches’ the Welsh economy.

It has identified four key areas of action:

• creating responsible, sustainable businesses;
• mainstreaming social businesses into the enterprise sector;
• working with partners to reduce the economically inactive in Wales; and
• being ‘true partners’ to the public sector to help tackle the growing demands on its resources.

Chairman Mike Theodoulou, who is also chief executive of Llanelli-based social enterprise Foothold, said, ‘Our focus is on developing good, sustainable responsible businesses which look after people and the environment because it’s good business.

‘We want an enterprise sector able to do more, win more government contracts, achieve more exports and create more quality jobs.

‘The Business Dragons will work to mainstream social and community enterprises as part of a strong Welsh enterprise sector.

‘We believe that we should celebrate the fact that there is a genuine choice in how to be enterprising in Wales. A community enterprise or a co-operative creates local wealth and good jobs as well as the private sector.’

The Business Dragons believe that a responsible and responsive enterprise sector can do more in partnership with the public sector to take care of the needs of Wales.

Mr Theodoulou added, ‘This is not a case of one sector doing less and the other more, but of both working together to deal with increased demand.’

The new body, which is likely to look for backing from the successor to Objective One funding in Wales – the Convergence Fund – said it will look to work with businesses to tackle economic inactivity levels in Wales.

Mr Theodoulou said, ‘We recognise that this is a huge problem for Wales and when you look at the demographic projections it makes for quite frightening reading. In trying to tackle this problem to date we have seen engagement with people being motivated and encouraged to attend training sessions. However, who is working with the employers to create a culture change so they can take control and take more people on?’

Mr Theodoulou said those currently inactive could potentially address the problem of skill shortages that many companies are facing.