Antur Cymru (Welsh Adventure) is a social enterprise providing support for businesses in Wales. Owned by shareholders in the community who do not profit individually from their investment, they have agreed surpluses should be reinvested in the company. It was launched in 1979 as Antur Teifi, but rebranded and changed its name in 2020 to reflect its pan-Wales remit, as it was believed that its original name gave the impression that its footprint was confined to the Teifi Valley.
When it was founded, its objective was to meet the needs of the businesses and communities it served. It was to do this by
- Fostering and encouraging the establishment of businesses and organisations
- Sharing information and advising businesses and enterprises
- Commissioning research surveys and studies
- Working with or becoming members of societies or organisations that support their aims.
Antur Cymru’s roots initially were very much based on delivering European funded projects to stimulate the local economy. Indeed, one of its early initiatives was an extracurricular university enterprise training programme to encourage female participation in the labour market. As it pre-dated subsequent national UK-wide initiatives encouraging equal opportunities for women and promoting female entrepreneurship, it was probably the first UK programme to do so. It attracted the attention of HRH, The Prince of Wales, when he visited the University. A participant on that first programme, Beverley Pold, became Chair of Antur’s Management Committee and Project Innovation Manager at Chwarae Teg (Welsh for ‘Fair Play’), the charity leading and delivering equal opportunity for women in Wales.
Over the years, Antur has retained its community focus but broadened its portfolio to include, for example, routes to market for local food suppliers, the establishment of community newspapers and, more recently, the promotion of digital connection and adoption, including town wi-fi systems. These provide essential information and data when developing regeneration strategies. Linked to this, they are developing the “Internet of Things” to support farm efficiency, reduce waste in manufacturing and understand visitor impacts on heritage sites. “The ‘Internet of Things’ is a very exciting development for us”, says Bronwen Raine, Antur’s Managing Director,” it enables us to capture other information, for example, about air quality and noise levels in our towns”. In April 2021, Antur appointed a Smart Towns specialist, Clive Davies, to head a new department for Digital Development. The Department will work with towns and businesses to install and maintain emerging low-cost technological monitoring systems, such as LoraWan, in order not just to “track town footfall patterns”, says Clive, “but also to measure air quality, light levels, motion, temperature and numerous other applications beneficial to both the quality of life and business performance”.
Whilst retaining its interest in the community and the environment, Antur has continued to address issues relating to Diversity and Inclusion through its contract activities. It has worked with refugees, for example, helping them set up community-owned restaurants and is about to embark on a person-centred approach to addressing the challenges to employment/self-employment and education in disadvantaged communities. Currently, it is developing a similar project focusing on the needs of people with learning disabilities.
In the 42 years since its foundation, Antur has promoted entrepreneurship in Wales and addressed the sustainability challenge. In so doing, it has focused on several of the UN’s 17 SDGs, most notably SDGs 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 13 (Climate Action) and 15 (Life on Land). Like the Terra Carta, it has also “recognised the importance of local and how these ‘locals’ connect and support each other”. All too frequently, when we think of entrepreneurship, however, we tend not to think of NGO support agencies. However, Antur and similar bodies are harmonising economic, eco, humane and social entrepreneurship. They are meeting the Shepherd and Patzeli (2011) definition of entrepreneurship being concerned with “the preservation of nature, life support and community in the pursuit of perceived opportunities to bring into existence future products, processes and services for gain, where the gain is broadly construed to include economic and non-economic gains to individuals, the economy and society”.
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