Budding Alan Sugars prove they can ‘grow a pound’

School pupils with, left to right, Holly Rawling, from Just Credit Union, Hannah Fox, and Steve Barras

Young entrepreneurs at a Shropshire primary school have turned £200 into an incredible £1,267.51 in just five weeks.

The ‘grow a pound’ project at Wilfred Owen School, in Shrewsbury, was a joint initiative with Shropshire’s not-for-profit savings and loans co-operative Just Credit Union and was funded by the England Illegal Money Lending Team.

Just Credit Union gave each pupil at the school £1 from the fund, which came from money confiscated from loan sharks. Five weeks later they went back to the school to see how much they had turned their pound coins into.

Steve Barras, Just Credit Union’s development officer, said: “The challenge was part of an initiative to raise the youngsters’ money awareness. Following a launch assembly the older pupils had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in a Lord Sugar Apprentice-style boardroom.

“The pupils had some great ideas and had worked out their income and expenditure and how they were going to reinvest. We were delighted to have the opportunity to come back and find out if they had turned their plans into reality and we were amazed by what they had achieved.”

Before announcing the grand total, Hannah Fox, who led the initiative for the school, said: “We were blown away by the dedication and hard work of all our pupils and their parents. They had some amazing ideas and also developed some great life skills. Through this initiative they have not only learned about money, but also about using their own initiative and the importance of re-investing.”

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, known as Stop Loan Sharks, said: “These youngsters have shown great initiative and enterprise in turning this money into such a huge amount and it sounds like they can certainly teach adults a thing or two when it comes to being money savvy.

“Learning about finances from a young age lays a good foundation for them to be financially resilient as adults and avoid potential pitfalls like illegal money lenders.

“It’s clear we have some future successful entrepreneurs on our hands. Well done to everyone involved!”

Steve added: “We were delighted to hand out individual trophies for the three highest earners and one for the best idea. But the whole school, including the staff and parents, are winners and should be very proud of what they have achieved.”

This year is the 20th anniversary of the IMLT. Since its launch, it has supported over 31,500 people and written off over £91.2 million worth of illegal debt, securing over 416 prosecutions for illegal money lending, leading to 598 years in jail. Anyone who has been affected by illegal money lending should call the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.