Duncan Hamer has occupied the role of Deputy Director for Entrepreneurship and Delivery at Welsh Government for the last four years and early on he recognised an opportunity for change in bringing REAP to Wales. He’s confident that working alongside some of Wales’ other gifted leaders from business and academia the programme can tackle some key issues and create a more dynamic nation.
To say Duncan Hamer has his finger on the pulse of Welsh business is an understatement. In his position with Welsh Government, he oversees numerous initiatives including Business Wales, the Accelerated Growth Programme, Anchor Company network and Enterprise Zones, plus other schemes centered on youth entrepreneurship and regional business engagement.
Leading a team of over 100 supported by major delivery contracts, Duncan is focussed on delivering BeTheSpark, and says one of his aims is to shake things up and spark important changes in behaviour across the entire ecosystem. “One of our biggest challenges is having the space and time to think about things differently,” he says. “In Wales there are lots of pieces to the jigsaw and BE THE SPARK gives us an opportunity to link those parts together and make them visible to people.”
Duncan has been surrounded by entrepreneurship for much of his life. He spent the early part of his career cutting his teeth in one of his family’s businesses, quickly followed by time spent in the corporate oil industry. This solid grounding has helped Duncan understand some of the main challenges such as how to broaden opportunity. Duncan has a business-minded daughter who from a young age has been told she can go on to achieve anything. But in reality, he recognises that business is still largely male-dominated. “The majority of business owners are men,” he says. “It’s an interesting challenge to address. There is untold wealth in untapped potential.”
REAP gives us a unique opportunity to bring together progressive leaders from across the ecosystem in Wales that can drive forward change by committing to take action within their spheres of influence for the benefit of Welsh Entrepreneurs
Another challenge Duncan wants REAP to tackle is how to allow Wales-based SMEs to fulfil their growth potential. “In Wales, you find SMEs get bought out or don’t get beyond twenty or thirty employees,” he says. “We need to understand what lies behind this, how institutions such as HE and FE can help and work with entrepreneurs and their management teams to allow them to get past that barrier and continue to grow.”
Finally, there’s the nation’s youth to consider. Duncan believes young people in Wales are incredibly talented and have a huge part to play in the nation’s future – but that more can be done to ignite their potential.
“These days working for yourself is aspirational amongst young people,” he says. “In Wales, our data says that entrepreneurship is an attractive thing. Our challenge is how we convert that aspiration into action and ultimately business growth.” With the help of BeTheSpark, the sky’s the limit.