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Award for young entrepreneur helping Hackney kids find their voice

Make Believe's founder and managing director, Joel Kern, scooped the London Young Entrepreneur of the Year award Make Believe's founder and managing director, Joel Kern, scooped the London Young Entrepreneur of the Year award

Sunday, April 27, 2014
11:00 AM

A enterprising 25-year-old has been rewarded for his work with a Hackney theatre group, scooping the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the London region.

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Hailing from Dalston, Joel Kern set up Make Believe, which teaches young people to sing, dance and act, at the age of 15, to try and help kids from disadvantaged boroughs to realise their dreams on the West End stage.

After a successful run at the Hackney Free School, and now based at Urswick School, Mr Kern expanded his business and now stands in the running to win the national award for his work.

Emma Murphy, owner of the Make Believe Essex franchise, and co-nominator of Mr Kern for the award said: “Joel’s enthusiasm is both amazing and contagious. He deserves recognition for the people and charities he has helped over the past 10 years.”

Profits from the thriving business go to a yearly nominated charity, with this years proceeds going to Kith & Kids, a North London based charity, who help children and their families suffering with autism and aspergers syndrome.

Make Believe’s operations director, Alison Freed, said: “Working closely with Joel makes me realise how special this young man is. He works tirelessly and his talent for business has enabled children from all backgrounds to excel in performing arts and for other creative entrepreneurs to set up their own small businesses through our franchise.

Mr Kern, who will find out if he wins the national award on May 21 at a lavish ceremony at the Waldorf Hilton, said: “I didn’t even realise I’d been entered, as two colleagues nominated me, it’s a really great honour.”

Kids as young as five can join in at the Hackney school, taught by West End veterans like Rebecca Westbury (Phantom, X Factor) and Aaron Nice (Guys and Dolls, Hamlet).

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