Lord Alan Sugar has given financial backing to a former Apprentice contestant a year after she finished runner-up in the show.
Susan Ma, a 22-year-old beauty products entrepreneur from Croydon lost out on the top prize in 2011 but has since persuaded business tycoon Lord Sugar to enter into a 50/50 partnership in her natural skincare brand, Tropic Skin Care.
Lord Sugar said: “After filming ends, I tell all the contestants to give me a call if they need me. In Susan’s case, she didn’t leave me alone until I invested in her! She has impressive enthusiasm and a fantastic product and I am confident in her ability to make a success of this venture. “
“We’ve seen well over 100 contestants on the Apprentice across the eight series and Susan is the first non-winner I have invested in, because she has been diligently progressing Tropic Skin Care for some time and clearly has a real passion for the beauty business.”
Ma, who attended Croydon High School and University College London, developed her kitchen-table beauty range in 2005. Although she no longer sells from her Saturday stall in Greenwich Market, her collection of vegan skincare products can be purchased online and from a number of boutiques across the country. Lord Sugar’s investment is said to have proved invaluable towards enabling further development of both products and packaging.
At 22, Ma has joined a rapidly rising number of company directors under the age of 25 in Croydon, recently dubbed the “entrepreneurial hotspot” of the UK.
Croydon is the most well represented area of the country for young entrepreneurs in the country according to new figures released by Duport.co.uk, a company that is dedicated to supporting businesses.
Of the 2310 directors appointed in the past year in Croydon, 10 per cent were under the age of 25, compared to a UK average of only 6 per cent. The borough is part of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership scheme which aims to “increase the level of entrepreneurship and business start-up rate”.
All of Ma’s products can be found at tropicskincare.com.
By Anja McLoughlin