Haider Khokhar – Head4Knowledge
Award Received – Do It – £5,000
Making learning and teaching computer programming fun
Third year student Haider Khokhar wanted to be an engineer but, having embarked on an engineering degree at the University, he soon found his inner entrepreneur dying to get out. Today Haider is the driving force behind a unique social enterprise project, called Head4Knowledge, which aims to help children aged 5-14 master the basics of computer programming in a fun, easy and engaging way. We met up with Haider to find out more.
“I’m an idea person and always have been so I decided to go along to one of the Unipreneur events held at UMIC (the University’s Innovation Centre) and was utterly inspired by the people I met. I had ideas popping into my head all the time so decided to try and focus on one in particular, an idea which would help teach children about programming. I went along to the Manchester What Next Conference and pitched my idea and was absolutely blown away when I won!
“My original plan was to make an mobile phone app to show children how to programme but, once I had done more marketing research, I realised that it would have to be web based, needed to be multi-level, meet the needs of the national curriculum as well as being fun and creative enough to keep a whole class engaged. “
Haider knew he had a lot of work to do to develop the idea and, having run things on a shoestring budget, he decided to enter UMIP’s Social Enterprise Competition and won a £5,000 prize in the ‘Do It’ category. He then took a year out from his engineering degree to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions.
The funding enabled Haider to develop a prototype programme and mentor Julian Skyrme, Head of Social Responsibility at the University, put him in touch with Chorlton Park Primary School whose head teacher agreed that the children could help to shape the programme. It also allowed him to create a website for the project as well as designing some proper graphics and characters which would be more appealing to young users.
Haider continued: “Through UMIP I have received so much advice and support which has been invaluable. I’ve worked closely with the School of Computer Science to develop the platform and programme and to ensure it meets the requirements of the national curriculum. The UMIP team has been so supportive advising me on copyright, IP, costs and expenses, invaluable information about areas in which I had no experience. I’d advise anyone else out there with an idea or two to take the plunge and just do it. There’s never a right time and you might have to make a few changes to your existing plans but jump in, listen to advice and start to bring your ideas to life.”
Alex Clark – LIMEE
Award Received – Try It – £500
Who we are
LIMEE is a social enterprise based in Manchester that has received funding through the University of Manchester. We work to provide sustainability students and graduates with practical work experience to increase their chances of starting a great career. Our programme appoints selected students to help Small and Medium Enterprises become more sustainable.
The programme provides training to graduates by linking them with SMEs that want to engage with sustainability. The student receives practical experience of issues faced by a business, whilst the business can reduce their environmental impact and save costs.
How the LIMEE placement works…
1. Chosen students each spend 3 weeks with an SME to assess the business’ environmental situation and identify ways that could save the business resources.
2. The student produces a report and policy for the company. The report explains what practices and changes could result in financial savings and reduced environmental impact.
3. The report and policy is submitted to the company at the end of the internship.
Future expansion of our business
LIMEE is currently conducting a trial with a master student placed in a local business in Manchester. The internship is going well so far, and we are looking at how to proceed from here.
Our initial goal is to have 5 students and businesses participate in the programme in 2015. In the longer term we are looking at having 12 students per year participating in Manchester, and are looking to expand the enterprise to work together with other institutions.
The LIMEE programme has already received great student interest, however, we need to find suitable ways of reaching out to businesses. For each student we need one business match, thus it is important to have interested companies lined up. In order to develop our enterprise we need further information about our market, suitable ways to approach businesses, and ways to improve our future business model.
We would like students to identify ways of engaging small businesses as well as developing marketing and sale strategies. The students will be expected to engage with prospective clients and introduce the service to gauge current interest in the programme. Students are to analyse the success of tried sales and marketing methods and advice LIMEE on the best way forward based on limited resources and funding.