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News > Business & Finance > Social enterprise in action: Boys earn Cambridge backing

Social enterprise in action: Boys earn Cambridge backing

Team lead by Abraham Chan (MH2) produce high-quality, reusable face masks when taking part in the Boars' Den

Social enterprise in action: Boys earn Cambridge backing

A social enterprise project by Tonbridge boys inspired by the current pandemic has been awarded a place on the University of Cambridge ‘Camstart’ programme.

A team of Second Year boys, led by Abraham Chan (MH2), came up with a plan of producing high-quality, reusable face masks when taking part in the Boars’ Den, the School’s annual contest to find the best entrepreneurial start-up ideas. 

As part of the competition, boys have to explain their business proposals to a panel of judges, while demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility and the environment.

Having won the School competition, Abraham’s team then successfully pitched their plan to Cambridge’s Camstart Accelerator Programme, a national scheme which provides expert support, mentoring and training for school students who can demonstrate the real-world potential of their social impact projects.

Abraham said: “In true Tonbridge spirit, we pooled our resources and applied our creativity as we did our bit to help tackle the global pandemic. For our business start-up, we are designing and producing comfortable, environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing reusable masks.

“Being part of the Camstart Accelerator Programme is really exciting, as this opens a door to new opportunities and invaluable support from project consultants, mentors and experts. We will be acquiring some key social enterprise skills and will have access to a network of like-minded individuals across the globe.” 

The boys’ masks include a range of features, such as water-resistant fabric; high breathability; a rubber stopper to provide a snug fit for faces of different shapes and sizes; and anti-fog and anti-rust nose bridge wire, ergonomically designed. It even has a pocket to add an extra filter layer for additional protection. 

The first step for Abraham and his team – which includes Ryan Ng (FH2) and other Second Years in Manor House – is to promote and sell the masks to boys and staff at Tonbridge School, using posters and online marketing, with the assistance of a £200 award for winning the Boars’ Den competition. In time, they aim to increase the scale of the operation and promote their product to the wider community. 

The masks cost £5 each. All proceeds will be going to the School’s partner charity, Child Action Lanka, and to a second charity, yet to be decided on by the boys, that supports the elderly.

Abraham added: “We’re thinking big but starting small. We aim to first equip staff and boys at Tonbridge, with masks featuring House colours, to express our unity. We certainly want to support the elderly, too, as I believe that this is the most affected group and we wish to give something back to the community.” 

The boys will now be taking part in regular Zoom calls with their project consultants at Camstart, who will provide guidance and feedback. They will also be joining online training workshops. 

Josie McNeil, the School’s Lower Master, who organises the Boars’ Den contest, said: “As the owner of one of the masks I can vouch for its quality. It is comfortable, breathable and without doubt my first choice for wearing in a double seminar. The boys are learning that being an entrepreneur means a lot of hard work, but they are meeting the challenge with enthusiasm and determination."

Above: Abraham and Ryan model two of their products. Pictured below: Abraham with one of the masks.


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