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A beauty academy, a salon and a coffee bar have been picked as winners of the Recorder’s competition for new local businesses.

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Havering Beauty Academy, Heavenly and Henry’s Coffee were chosen by a panel of judges to win a package of mentoring and free advertising.

As part of the Newspaper Society’s Local Business Accelerators (LBA) campaign, one now has the chance to progress to the national stage of the competition in June. One overall winner will receive support from TV star and business guru Deborah Meaden and £10,000 from the Business Growth Fund.

Archant London, the Recorder’s publisher, hosted two Dragons’ Den-style presentation days last month, and the panel of judges chose three Havering winners from a shortlist of 10 – along with winners for other Archant titles.

Havering franchise owner Gerry Byrne judged entries alongside Mark Kass, head of Barking Enterprise Centre and Jamie Banks, representing Barking and Dagenham’s chamber of commerce.

Mr Byrne, who runs five McDonald’s restaurants in Romford, is well aware of the challenges and pitfalls business hopefuls face.

He said: “There have been some interesting presentations and, because of my background, I have been particularly interested in those with a franchise aspect to them.

“Across all the titles we have definitely seen one who was simply a natural entrepreneur.

“The presentation covered everything and absolutely nailed it. True entrepreneurship and at such a young age and after only a few years. Within this group of papers you might have just found the nationwide winner, simply incredible.”

Mr Kass added: “This scheme and the presentations demonstrates there is a passion for entrepreneurism. This is not about growing existing businesses, this is about start-ups.

“Across east London there is a hotbed of entrepreneurs – but all are in desperate need of help through coaching and mentoring. One thing I found interesting is there are many people who could be claiming benefits but they don’t want to, they want to get out of that trap and set up their own business, following their dreams.”

Mr Banks echoed Mr Kass’s thoughts, adding: “This has reinforced my view that there is plenty of entrepreneurial spirit.

“Many have boundless energy and enthusiasm, but they need to get expert guidance to succeed and this is where this project can really make a difference.”

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