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Swapping the ‘Financial Services’ for ‘Social Enterprise’, we talk to MadAnts CoFounder, Kelly Lickley…

At TheEmployable, we like business characters with a bit of ‘get up and go’ and when Kelly Lickley of MadAntSport, contacted us to highlight her Retail Business and respective social enterprise scheme, we thought this seemed like a story worth covering.

Throw in the facts that Claire Young, former Apprentice star and Young Entrepreneur champion, is a massive MadAnts supporter;  that Kelly left a good career in the financial services to set up her business; and that she had recently written a impassioned letter to the Deputy Prime Ministers Office, on the unemployment predicament of the NEET generation, we were keen to speak to Kelly more to find out all about MadAnts story…

Cheers Kelly for speaking to TheEmployable…

Kelly, you have come from an illustrious career in the Financial Services – what made you take the leap into Retail Ownership and Social Entreprise?

My very first job as a young person (13-16) was in retail so I always had the initial love of customer service, business and retail. During my career in financial services I ran a voluntary community programme in sport for young females, the aim was for them to keep fit and healthy, stay safe and make new friendships we started with 5 girls and when I left the programme there were 120+ girls involved playing sport. To cut a long story short, Mad Ants now encompasses it all: Retail sports, business ownership, and social enterprise allowing young people to have an opportunity to run their own mini Mad Ants raising aspiration and having a “can do” attitude.

Tell is about MadAnts as a business and also your social enterprise venture…

Mad Ants was formed in 2009 over a glass of wine with my business partner Nikki after ordering kit for our community sports programme, we felt we could make change to sports retail market and become innovative in the way we would do business. My Business partner is a serial entrepreneur in graphic design and marketing and with my business and finance background we felt we would make a great team… Mad Ants were born! The social enterprise is based purely out of passion in us both to make a difference and give opportunities to people, raise confidence, self-belief and allow them to ‘have a go’ with our full support. Our ‘Antprentice – You’re In Business’ programme has now become accredited and not only will people have the opportunity to run their own version of Mad Ants they will gain a level 1 award in exploring enterprise and a level 2 award in demonstrating enterprise. i could waffle all day but best to look for yourself www.madantsport.org

You recently sent a letter to the Deputy Prime Ministers office addressing the issue of NEET’s and also with a proposal on how MadAnts can help. Have you had a response as yet? 

Yes I did write to the DPO. With our training programme and passion to make a difference I felt it was a great way to offer support to their cause in trying to change the culture of NEETS. I haven’t had a response and I’m not surprised either, NEETS have been around the million mark for the last 10 years and yes it has risen in the last couple of years but so has unemployment as a whole. Government bodies are full of procrastinators they talk a lot about change but nothing actually seems to be done. Zero action – so not surprised I haven’t had a response.

Note to Editor – they have now got back to Kelly, saying they are considering her proposals!

What is the motivation for you personally, in trying to encourage and improve young peoples employability? 

I want to make a difference. I want to see young people have pride, opportunities, but more than anything a “can do” attitude.

What skills do you identfiy as most missing from the young people that you have so far helped?

Confidence, Culture & Signposting. Nobody is trying to help find their passion, they are continuously put forward for ‘anything’ to try and tick a box. They have become a statistic rather than real people with passion, commitment and drive. Find the drive you find the employable!

Give us your personal highlight from the program so far – any budding entrepreneurs identfied who could be the ‘next big thing’?

YES YES YES!! A young man who has designed, developed and took to market his novelty xmas jumpers had a £6k turnover and £1,400 net profit in 3 MONTHS!! He is 16 years old and his aspiration is to change the ‘culture’ as he calls it of his peer group. He is in my Antprentice national flagship team.

And whats next? 

Help nurture, grow and Inspire! Mad Ants social enterprise worldwide!

Not a bad aspiration to have hey, and we at TheEmployable wish Kelly and the whole team all the best with their business and social ventures!

If you are looking to start your own business, think you have a creative idea or you are a self starting business champion then find out more about Startacus the online community celebrating the self starter – launching soon…


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