Olaitan Olawande, who is completing her Masters in Applied Behaviour Analysis, set up Practice What You Speak, to provide public speaking workshops to young people across the UK. The workshops are targeted at three age ranges, 7-11 years, 12-17 years and ages 18-24, with Olaitan having already run workshops for over 30 young people.
Practice What you Speak is aimed at children who are already comfortable with speaking in public but want to hone their skills, or children who lack confidence and need additional support. Through activities including tongue twisters, pronunciation practice and debating games, Olaitan said she launched the business to allow children to “feel empowered”.
Olaitan started her business with the help of Big Ideas Wales, part of Business Wales and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea.
Originally launched as a workshop which young people would attend in person, Covid lockdown measures saw Olaitan quickly diversify her business to offer online workshops.
Speaking about setting up her own enterprise, Olaitan said: “I’ve always thrived off public speaking from a young age and wanted to use that to help others and give them the tools to improve their quality of life from childhood. Setting the foundations early to enable children to feel confident will serve as a lifelong skill.
“Although last year was challenging for virtually all aspects of running a business, the downtime during lockdown was the motivation I needed to adapt the business so it could still operate with social distancing restrictions in place. It was especially rewarding to see that the workshops could still run just as successfully over video call as they did in person.”
Olaitan’s 6-hour workshops run during the school holidays but she already has ambitions to organise larger scale public speaking events to run over the course of several days.
After attending a B-enterprising event at Bangor University, Olaitan was referred to Big Ideas Wales where she met her business advisor Katherine Lewis. Speaking about the service, Olaitan said: “Having someone at the end of the phone to ask advice about my business has been a huge help, particularly in what was a uniquely strange year for setting up a business. Katherine has set me goals and really encouraged me to have confidence in my offering as I become more established.”
Lowri Owen, B-enterprising Manager, said: “Bangor University is delighted to be able to collaborate with our partners to be able to offer opportunities and resources for our students and graduates to develop their enterprise skills and start their own businesses. Through B-Enterprising, we can offer our students start-up advice and support as well as funding for test trading and market research and free Incubation space at M-Sparc. Olaitan welcomed every opportunity offered to her and we'd like to wish her every success with her exciting new venture.”
Olaitan has also taken advantage of some of the free events hosted by Big Ideas Wales available to anyone aged 16-25 in Wales with a business idea, including Bootcamp to Business and Summer
Start-Up. Both events aim to connect budding entrepreneurs with successful businesspeople to receive support as they get their business off the ground.
Katherine Lewis, Big Ideas Wales business advisor said: “At the age of 21, Olaitan has taken something she loves and turned it into her own enterprise, applying the skills she learnt at Big Ideas Wales events to develop a solid business. She’s a prime example of a young entrepreneur with ambition and determination, which is a great foundation for growing her business. Her natural enthusiasm and ability to bring out the best in people will undoubtedly make Practice What You Speak a successful venture for years to come.”
Has this inspired you to kick start your business idea? Visit www.bigideas.wales to get started.