The Entrepreneurs’ Challenge was born out of a generous $4 million gift from Kiwi philanthropist and businessman, Charles Bidwill and a further 1 million dollars from an anonymous donor.
A passionate supporter of New Zealand now based in London, Charles was born in the Hawkes Bay and went to secondary school at Christ’s College in Christchurch. Early in his career, Charles began a B.Com at the University of Auckland, but later abandoned study for the excitement of the trading floor. Over the next three years Charles travelled through stock broking firms in Australia, the United States and the UK. He returned to New Zealand to rejoin his old firm, which became Statham, Kay, Bidwill & Co. In 1966 at the age of 26, Charles became a member of the Auckland Stock Exchange.
Notably at that time, Charles actively championed the legal case by, then pirate station, Radio Hauraki who were broadcasting from a ship in the Hauraki Gulf. He underwrote a public issue of shares to obtain a broadcasting licence and as a result, private radio was born in New Zealand.
In 1969, Charles formed his own Auckland based share broking firm, Bidwill, Wakeman, Paine & Co. By the beginning of the 1980s, Charles teamed up with investment banker Alan Gibbs, and for the next ten years he was prominently associated with several of the country’s most successful companies including Ceramco, Bendon, Baycorp and Steel & Tube.
During this period he was a member of the Business Round Table, a foundation Member of the Sports Foundation, and was on the organising committee of the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games.
Since 1997 Charles has been based in the UK and continues to work in foreign exchange and bonds. Charles continues to be a passionate supporter of The Entrepreneurs’ Challenge.