WITH STATISTICS suggesting long-term youth unemployment in Wales is at a 15-year high, some young people in Gwent are going against the grain and setting up their own businesses.

Research carried out by RBS and Aston University recently found the age group with the highest level of early-stage entrepreneurial activity in Wales was 18-24 year olds.

Myscha Dene, 23, from Abergavenny, set up her own photography business, Dreamscape Imagery, when she was just 19. She said: "When it started out I was just doing photos for friends and family, so I had relatively small start-up costs. I didn't rent a studio, I was doing it from home, and as the money started coming in I started investing in better equipment and props.

"I've always been very determined and quite business minded, so I was sensible. I don't have any debts, I did rent a studio for a while but I realised quite quickly that I didn't actually need it.

"When I set up the Facebook page it went from being a hobby to being a business. It's such a great way to advertise, especially as advertising space and business cards are so expensive for a small business.

"I think people underestimate the amount of determination and pure hard work you have to put in. I work a six, sometimes seven-day week."

Ms Dene also has her hands full with her 19-month-old old daughter, Phoenix, while juggling coursework to become a midwife, volunteering in the maternity ward of Nevill Hall Hospital and her charity work for Sands, a bereavement charity.

She added: "My partner Damian always asks me how I do it, and I can honestly say I'm not sure!"

James Durose, 23, from Llanellen, established his business whilst still at school when he ran his rare poultry and egg business with his parents from his home.

His childhood interest in farming inspired him to sell local and seasonal produce from his farm shop, A Local Delight.

Mr Durose also sells a selection of cured, smoked and air dried meat products and fruit and vegetables from local growers where possible, as well as local jam, chutneys and organic apple juice.

He said: "Starting your own business as a young person can be difficult, you do get the odd person who assumes because you're young everything you've done has been paid for by your parents.

"It does annoy me but then I just think to myself I know how hard I have worked, I know what I'm doing and I know I've had the guts to go self-employed."