We speak with Liam Smyth from 100 Masters, an EYA winning project in 2018. 100 Masters uses digital innovation to amplify under-served voices, promote civic participation, raise aspirations and encourage people to connect, learn and create in marginalized communities where modernity has failed to replace disappearing traditional employment in the four metropolitan boroughs in the UK known as the “Black Country” in England.
How has your business developed since the EYA Festival?
After a fruitful relationship with Linz University, we were inspired to build a student thinktank at home in collaboration with the University of Birmingham as part of an enterprise module. Our student thinktank has successfully helped to steer our project by identifying behaviours and trends of new target audiences. We are now looking to create new online content and targeted advertisements that engage younger audiences with 100 Masters.
Are you making money?
We continue to be supported by an Arts Council England grant that supports our action-research project. We also rely on aforementioned investment and support from universities and youth organisations. Our fundraising ambitions have improved substantially and we are currently waiting to hear about the outcome of an application we have submitted to the EU; winning the EYA 2018 has bolstered our application to the EU.
What kept you going and where does motivation come from during hard times?
Understanding that being comfortable isn’t productive but neither is stress. As hard as it is to drag yourself away from work, you must take time to reflect, evaluate and and readdress the balance. Build yourself a good leadership network. Be open, collaborate and have a curiosity that stretches beyond your sector: sports, politics, business and arts all contain a variety of different leadership styles that could give you an edge.
Are you planning to expand in other countries?
Absolutely. We have already been collaborating with organisations in Indonesia and we are very hopeful that our cooperation grant to the EU will be successful. If so, we will be looking to franchise 100 Masters across Bulgaria, France, Poland and Sweden. We will connect networks of isolated and marginalised communities and build in a research programme that will lead to an open-source online toolkit in the future.
In which way has winning the European Youth Award helped your social business grow? Was the mentoring useful?
It has helped us to understand that the public problems 100 Masters are trying to tackle are not limited to post-industrial towns in the UK. Connecting with leaders and organisations through the European Youth Award has grounded our project in the international community. It was an encouraging and humbling experience to know that there are many other innovative projects taking on similar challenges in creative and powerful ways.
Liam has recorded a short video message to encourage purpose driven digital entrepreneurs to apply for the European Youth Award:
Thank you for your efforts to help others!
We can improve the European society, together!