TV presenter keen to develop children’s business

Published: 26 Feb 2016

A former Irish-dancing champion, Steph McGovern was born in North Tyneside and raised in Middlesbrough, and studied science communication and policy at University College London, winning the title of Young Engineer for Britain aged 19, thanks to a design she created for Black & Decker.

Clearly the die was cast early when it came to business acumen.

“I was always looking for ways to make money as a child,” said Steph, who was a familiar face on BBC Breakfast.

“My friend’s brother was Sean Maguire and was in EastEnders, so I used to sell his autograph to my mates at school too.

“I ran a jumble sale at the end of my next door neighbour’s drive. I used to rummage through her garage, looking for anything that I thought people might buy. I’d then set up a table and try to sell what I could to the people walking by. Whatever money I made, I split with my neighbour.”

Steph McGovern

With a healthy bank of work, there’s no need for flogging stickers on the sly these days – but she’s passionate about encouraging kids to realise their potential, which comes in handy for her latest gig, hosting new CBBC series Pocket Money Pitch.

Over 10 episodes, the programme will see a string of budding young entrepreneurs – both individuals and teams – aged between 8-14, vie for a year’s worth of pocket money to invest in their idea. Each episode will be grouped into themes, including food and fashion, with the winning pitch securing the help of an industry guru to kick-start their business, and the final episode showing what happened next.

Gurus include food entrepreneur Levi Roots, and Myleene Klass, who shares her expertise in fashion.

“I was blown away by the ideas because they were just so original,” said Steph.

“They were so well thought through and professional. They thought about every element. They hadn’t just said, ‘I really want to sell something’; they thought about the name, the branding, the drawings, the marketing, and that was really impressive.

“It felt like they were well ahead of their years.”

And Steph, who made her first TV appearance when she cropped up to discuss women in science aged 19, is keen to make business integral to education.

“Business leaders regularly complain that young people don’t leave school with the right skills,” she said.

“Encouraging young people to be entrepreneurs makes the connection between school and the world of work, teaching them about practical thinking, team work, communication and financial literacy. This is vital if we are to fill the skills gap and get the economy moving more.”

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