An Essex broadcasting service targeting contemporary Asians in London is one step away from being crowned the UK?s brightest new business after reaching the final of the 2005 HSBC Start-Up Stars Awards ? an annual search for the most promising young firm poised to take the business world by storm.

Club Asia has beaten off stiff competition from hundreds of other young enterprises ? ranging from a Yorkshire-based firm designing and constructing golf courses to a cow milking contractor in Wales ? to be named one of HSBC?s 10 finalists.

The two-year old company is now hoping to go on and scoop the coveted title of HSBC Start-Up Star 2005 plus the ?20,000 cash prize at a gala awards dinner on Thursday 13th October at London?s famous Savoy Hotel. A runner-up will be presented with a cheque for ?5,000.

Sumerah Ahmad and Humerah Khan started Club Asia in September 2003 after spotting a gap in the market.

The two sisters, both British born Asians, found themselves constantly switching between mainstream and Asian radio channels, looking for entertainment that suited their varied tastes. They knew they represented a large sector of the community and decided to take on the establishment to launch their own radio station.

First they developed the brand of Club Asia, representing a young, fresh, progressive Asian lifestyle, then set about winning a highly sought after London radio license. Their application was detailed, professional and well researched enough to impress the Radio Authority, who awarded them the license against seven other operators ? including radio giants such as Chrysalis.

Word soon spread amongst the young, urban Asian community and, in its first year, Club Asia became the fastest growing commercial radio station in London. It has exceeded turnover and listener figure projections and won an award as Best Ethic Corporation.

The sister team have overcome numerous challenges to bring their idea to fruition and, in doing so, have made a significant contribution to the community. The business is a commercial success and also a positive influence within the Asian youth culture.

Club Asia is ?Asian cool? and for Sumerah Ahmed and Humerah Khan this is more than enough to justify their hard work and the commitment they have made to this ground-breaking venture.

Simon Wainwright, head of business banking for HSBC Bank, said: ?There is a great appetite for entrepreneurship in the South East. In fact, HSBC helped nearly 20,000 new firms get started in the region in the first half of 2005 – that?s over 750 per week.

?Going it alone isn?t easy, and we hope that the success of Club Asia in this year?s HSBC Start-Up Stars Awards will help the firm go from strength to strength.

?We?ve been impressed by the vision and determination shown by Sumerah Ahmad and Humerah Khan, and hope that budding entrepreneurs in the area will be inspired to take the plunge and turn their business dreams into reality.?

HSBC – the ?Best High Street Bank for Small Businesses? according to the Forum of Private Business – launched the fifth annual Start-Up Stars Awards in March when it asked owners of businesses less than three years old to shout about their success and demonstrate they have the skills, inspiration and tenacity to succeed in their marketplace.

Sumerah and Humerah will now face the judging panel at HSBC?s Canary Wharf headquarters in September, which will be looking to decide which firm has the vital ?X Factor? for business stardom. As one of the 10 finalists, Club Asia automatically receives ?4,000 worth of consultancy and software courtesy of Croner Consulting and Intuit.