Lucia Beltrame

Enterprise success stories

Lucia Beltrame

What do you study at the University of Exeter?

BA Management with Leadership, I’m in my last year.

What is your business all about?

Provide support to primary school children in rural parts of Kenya. Particularly, the students of Loreto Primary School.

What is your business’s unique selling point (USP)? What is your main form of advertising? Who are your main competitors?

We are a non-profit, so we don’t directly aim at selling our goods and services. Our unique selling point however, is our story and our profound commitment to the cause. We advertise through Facebook and word of mouth, and we have no competitors as such.

Where did your idea come from? What is the start-up story behind your business?

Ideas generate from other ideas, so if you have one: share it! For sure other people will have similar thoughts on their minds, and opinions, and possible advice.

I started off by brainstorming about how we could make ourselves useful and then our dreams just grew and grew, and our ambitions are still growing.

Juggling your academic studies with your new business as well as still having a social life must be a challenge. How do you accommodate the three and what does an average day, if you have one, look like for you?

Each day is different. I am lucky because I don’t have to dedicate each day to the Project, I just know that the more effort I put into it, the more they can benefit.

What things helped you learn how to run a new business? Has there been anything or anyone in particular that has helped you along the way?

Aside from the university and very helpful individuals who have supported us financially we have learned by ourselves. You learn gradually through experience and through learning about what other similar projects are doing.

What support have you received from the University?

The university has been absolutely incredible! They have helped me all round from financial, advisory and networking as well as exposure and publicity. One of the most important things is to learn to leverage the support around you.

What do you think has been your key to success so far?

Each new venture seems like an insurmountable hurdle when you first go into it. When we first started we struggled to design the structure of the organisation, then getting it registered and then maintaining it financially. But when you look back everything seems easy and the learning you acquire from each new phase will help you deal with the next.

Have you made any mistakes along the way? Is so, what have you learnt from these? And further, if you could go back in time, are there any things that you would change or would do differently?

‘Mistakes’ seems like a strong word. As I said above, as you progress, you learn more and more and you wish you had had that knowledge when you first started but the whole learning process is necessary as well.

What can we look forward to in terms of your business? Have you got any future plans for it?

We are looking at extending our reach to new schools in the area and possibly abroad as well as completing the construction of the kitchen.

How about yourself? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

It’s difficult to say. Each new day I have different ideas and plans. But my commitment to the project is long term and that will not change.

What advice do you have for other University of Exeter students who are looking to start their own business?

Don’t be fazed by the first few steps. Persevere and be patient, but also be willing to change your initial plans. Learn to collaborate, delegate and ask for help when you need it.