Nearly £1million will be awarded to emerging entrepreneurs from non-privileged backgrounds in a Dragons’ Den-style scheme at the University of East Anglia (UEA).  

These young entrepreneurs will be able to use the funds to bring business plans to life, with the aim of making a positive difference in Norwich and beyond. 

The new boost in funding for the UEA Enterprise Fund comes following a generous legacy gift from local builder William Arthur Hamlin, better known as Arthur. 
According to the Letter of Wishes he left with the Legacy team at Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), he was determined to “help the man on the street.” 

Before passing away at the age of 76, Arthur built five properties in Norwich, renting them out to students who were making plans for their future. Meeting these students, Arthur got to know the challenges they faced.  

His gift of £943,000 will now help to transform the lives of young entrepreneurial minds at UEA.

University of East Anglia
Images: University of East Anglia (UAE)

Speaking to CAF, Arthur’s sister Alison said he always wanted to help people who had great ideas but not necessarily the means to execute them.  

She said: “My brother wasn’t very clever in school but he was always very practical and resourceful. He liked gardening and, as a teenager, he sold the vegetables he grew to the local community. 

“He found school challenging, and he always wanted to help other people like himself who had ideas in life and who knew what they wanted to do, but didn’t necessarily have the resources.”


Following recommendations from CAF’s Legacy team, who deliberated at length over how they can best carry out the donor’s wishes, the University will be encouraging those from less advantaged financial backgrounds to apply for a portion of the Enterprise Fund.

If they are shortlisted, they will come face to face with a panel of ‘dragons’, consisting of local and national business people and highly experienced UEA alumni.

The funds will be allocated at two key stages, through start-up grants of up to £7,500 to help the entrepreneurs test out their ideas and small-scale investments of up to £50,000 to help them develop their business. 

Monica Brown, Head of Charity Advisory and Programmes at CAF, said: “We are so proud to be a part of Arthur’s incredible legacy, which will be making an impact for many years to come.

"Starting a new business is tough, and access to finance is not always readily available especially for those without the right connections or family funds. Empowering young creative minds is essential, and it is great being involved in a project where we can support their ideas and inspire others for the future.” 

Professor David Richardson, Vice-Chancellor at UEA, said: “Arthur Hamlin’s gift will help transform the lives of UEA’s emerging entrepreneurs by supporting new business ideas that will have a lasting impact both here in Norwich and globally.

His legacy will ensure that UEA continues to instil the spirit of innovation and enterprise, on which UEA’s very foundations were built.
It will enable our entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to create good in the world for many generations to come and we’re very grateful to CAF for their support in helping us realise Arthur’s wishes.”


The UEA Enterprise Fund, formed in 2017, is almost unique within the UK and offers tools, expert mentorship, and funding to support ambitious businesses from determined students and recent graduates. Since its launch, the Enterprise Fund has awarded grants and investments of £238,900 to 16 businesses.


If you would like more information or to discuss leaving a CAF Charitable Legacy, please contact our Legacy team on 03000 123 108 or email us.  

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