Youngsters showed off their business skills when they pitched ideas to Havering’s own ‘Dragons' Den’ to help solve social and environment issues.

Pupils from six primary and five secondary schools presented their ideas to an expert panel of business bosses in a competition set by the Social Enterprise Academy to maximize profits that benefit society and the environment.  

The aim was to help pupils start their own social enterprises to solve the social issues that they care about for the future.

“I was blown away by the youngsters' ideas at the Dragons’ Den,” the academy’s Maya Wenzel said. “They all shared creative and thoughtful responses to social and environmental issues.

“One of my favourite parts of my job is being able to see the next generation of social entrepreneurs in action.”

Ideas included an upcycling scheme that uses crisp packets to make keychains, a cookbook with affordable recipes to help with the cost of living crisis, hygiene packs for rough sleepers and educational kits to learn about climate change and conservation.

The overall winner of the primary schools Dragons’ Den was Hilldene, which gets £75. The runner-up was Langtons, getting £50.

Drapers’ Maylands School was praised for its community impact, while Towers Infants and Juniors was named for the best teamwork and Rise Park Junior for best vision.

Winner of the secondary schools Dragons’ Den was Sanders Draper, winning £100 for plans to address mental health issues youngsters have experienced since the Covid pandemic.

Harris Academy Rainham was named 'best environmental enterprise', Lime Academy Forest Approach for 'most creative pitch', Redden Court for best business plan and Corbets Tey for most developed enterprise.

Havering councillor Oscar Ford, who watched the children’s presentations, said: “They were passionate about the issues and delivered them in a professional manner.”

Schools taking part were Hilldene Primary, Drapers’ Maylands Primary, Rise Park Junior, Towers Infants and Juniors, Langtons Junior Academy, Redden Court, Sanders Draper, Lime Academy, Harris Academy and Corbets Tey.

The panel of ‘dragons’ included experts from a software technology company, a firm of accountants, funding managers, an equity investment consultancy, a skills training agency and Havering Council.