Graduate wins Entrepreneurial Barnet Competition

Author: Dalitso Njolinjo


The winner of the first ever Entrepreneurial Barnet Competition, organised by Middlesex University, Barnet Council and Barnet and Southgate College, was announced last week.

Rebecca Manning, Chief Executive of the Community Interest Company Happy to Be, was announced as the competition winner after a grand final pitch event on 8 March. 

The Middlesex University BSc Nursing (Mental Health) graduate set up Happy to Be last year, which aims to improve mental health for people who question their gender identity. Happy to Be provides professional peer support, networking and training for the LGBT community and consultancy services for organisations to raise awareness and promote diversity.

Rebecca was declared winner after going up against three other brilliant local businesses and has been awarded a total of £1000. Along with the prize money, Rebecca will receive advice from a business mentor to help her grow her business. 

The grand final event was held at the headquarters of Brent Cross Shopping Centre owner Hammerson, who sponsored the competition.  

The first stage of the competition saw four finalists progress to the grand final and win £500 each to boost their business. 

Rebecca Manning, winner of the competition, said: “Not only does the prize money of £1000 mean so much but the awareness and exposure created from the competition across businesses and the council has been brilliant. Even just the validation that Happy To Be is a good idea is wonderful. As the company is a social enterprise we ensure that at least 65% of the profits go directly back into the community and 100% of this prize money will be invested into setting up the basics and preparing a sustainable business for the community that we serve.”

Councillor Gabriel Rozenberg, Vice-Chairman of Assets, Regeneration and Growth Committee and member of the competition judging panel, said: “I want to congratulate Rebecca on her impressive win and I look forward to seeing how this business develops in the future. Happy to Be is a unique business and Rebecca is very determined – hopefully this competition is a stepping stone to success.

“I also want to congratulate the other finalists on getting as far as they did. They all had very strong business ideas and I wish them all the best for the future.”  

David Williams, Director for Corporate Engagement at Middlesex University said: “Setting up a new business takes courage and innovation; these four finalists showed great ambition and the hope is all four go on to be a success.  The University is delighted to offer these opportunities in conjunction with the community support from Hammerson, Barnet Council and Barnet and Southgate College.”

David Byrne, Principal of Barnet and Southgate College, said: “The competition has given our Foundation Business Degree students a taste of entrepreneurship, providing invaluable experience in formulating an idea to pitch against other businesses in a competitive marketplace. We’d like to congratulate Barnet and Southgate College students Ceren Budak and Safiye Arioglu for reaching the final with their innovative idea and we wish Rebecca Manning every success with her winning business.”   

As well as Rebecca the other finalists were: Juliyah Brown, owner of Barnet business Queen Angel Creations, which creates handmade flowers and unique gifts for all occasions; Middlesex University BA Business Management student Humara Khan, owner of the jewellery business Candy Collection; and Barnet and Southgate College Foundation Business degree students Ceren Budak and Safiye Arioglu with their mobile hair and beauty business Hairtastic.