NTU graduate to launch start-up incubator in Sierra Leone with support from The Hive

NTU graduate Simeon Hartwig, who was supported by The Hive during his time at university, has returned 10 years on to ask Hive mentors for advice on setting up his own enterprise centre.

NTU graduate Simeon Hartwig, who was supported by The Hive during his time at university, has returned 10 years on to ask Hive mentors for advice on setting up his own enterprise centre.

Simeon originally started Bantum Clothing at The Hive in 2002 through a business start-up course, after graduating in BA (Hons) Design Studies at NTU.

His business went from strength to strength and in 2010 he won the UK British Council Fashion Entrepreneur Award. At the height of Bantum Clothing's success, their products were stocked in 25 shops in Europe.  They also hired many interns, including Rachel Hobbs who now runs Bridge and Stitch - another very successful business situated in The Hive.

Bantum was ran well until 2013, when, due to a lack of money available to employ more people, the business began to  decline. During this time,  Simeon started lecturing on fashion courses and ran a series of streetwear modules. And was  this that kick-started his idea to launch a start-up incubator.

After getting a job in Sierra Leone coaching football for the Craig Bellamy foundation, Simeon made a decision on what his next move would be. From his business experience he has found it hard to let go of his entrepreneurial roots and so continued to teach enterprise, enabling him to reach out to lots of people.

I wanted to create what the Hive did for me in England and offer similar support and opportunities to potential businesses in Sierra Leone.

Simeon Bantum

After going to a poetry slam at SensiHub, a creative tech innovation hub in Sierra Leone, the start-up idea blossomed. It was there he saw a lot of raw materials, manufacturing opportunities and a big gap in the market. However, Simeon says he recognised that there was a clear lack of business knowledge:

“I wanted to create what the Hive did for me in England and offer similar support and opportunities to potential businesses in Sierra Leone.”

Sierra Leone is still recovering from the devastating Ebola epidemic and the 10-year civil war. Simeon saw this as an even greater reason to get stuck in and help the economy:

“Being able to steer them to make a brand for themselves and give them marketing skills really spurs me. Through my knowledge of western businesses, I can help give them western marketing branding to push their products. My goal is to help move communities away from dependency on aid and to make something of themselves.”

The Hive staff have always had time for me and if I can grow, it would be nice to grow with people who have helped me so much.

Simeon Bantum

Simeon has returned full circle to The Hive to get advice on how to deliver a three month successful start-up course. Having a 10-year rapport with the staff here, Simeon is a much loved member of The Hive:

“They’ve always had time for me and if I can grow, it would be nice to grow with people who have helped me so much.”

So far, business ideas presented to Simeon have included fire lighters that work in any weather, producing and selling coffee, and a surf club. Simeon is also looking to start up a football team with orphans.

We look forward to hearing an update from him on how he's getting on in the near future.

NTU graduate to launch start-up incubator in Sierra Leone with support from The Hive

Published on 30 November 2016
  • Category: The Hive

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