Three Gwent entrepreneurs have joined a new accelerator programme which will help them overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic while championing diversity across the Welsh business start-up landscape.

The three business founders beat entrepreneurs from across Wales to secure a place on the Excelerator Programme, which will see 23 people from under-represented groups take part in a Welsh Government-funded 12-week immersive accelerator programme.

The aim is to help them launch and grow their business idea or scale an existing business.

The virtual programme includes a series of masterclasses for founders, as well as mentorship and professional coaching from business start-up and scaleup experts. It is being delivered as part of the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

The Gwent entrepreneurs are:

• Louis Cochrane, founder of Deliverbuzz, an on-demand delivery, click & collect and table service for local shops, supermarkets, food and retail businesses.

• Rohit Kulkarni, founder of Log 6, a range of natural, safe and powerful disinfectant products that are a credible alternative to bleach and alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

• Kamal Ali, founder of My Audio Islam, an app specialising in Islamic audio content.

Cwmbran-based Louis Cochrane has seen demand for his Deliverbuzz service soar during the pandemic.

The 24-year-old said: "Deliverbuzz was founded with the aim of supporting as many local businesses and people as possible across South Wales, by connecting local stores to customers via our app. The idea came from wanting to help save high street businesses, by making it easier for customers to use them in a simple, convenient way."

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said: “We recognise that women, young people, those from a BAME background and people living with a disability are significantly under-represented when it comes to business start-ups in Wales, and we want to help change that.

“This programme presents a fantastic opportunity for the 23 entrepreneurs taking part, who will receive expert support to develop a sustainable, robust business model.”