Young entrepreneurs - our future

Business mentoring

These are challenging times. On a daily basis, we hear about yet more closures and job cuts affecting famous brands and iconic businesses across the world. The Prince's Trust continues to help young people.

And yet, in the midst of all of this there is something which has not changed. Every day across Britain, fresh ideas are being turned into reality and new businesses are still being created.

These are not businesses which appear in the headlines, certainly not now and probably not in the future. Yet, collectively, these small businesses make an immense difference to Britain’s economy, the health of our communities, and to the lives of the people who start them.

I see this every day at The Prince's Trust. Young people continue to come to us with business ideas, just as they have done for the past 25 years. In this time, the Trust has helped more than 70,000 young people into business – many of them setting up small firms in poor areas, creating jobs where there are none.

Most of their ideas and proposals are very straightforward. They don't depend on complicated financial products and unfathomable structured debt. They are just good, honest businesses which rely on the energy, commitment and drive of the young person wishing to start them.

Working in the local community

Take mother-of-two Claire Tomlinson who was made redundant at the age of 28. With a loan and mentor from The Prince's Trust, she set up Safety Training Services Ltd, delivering vital health and safety training. Her business now has 10 trainers who offer their invaluable services to more than 100 people a month.

Claire has realised her business dreams and now supports other charitable projects, even becoming a Young Ambassador for our youth charity.

It is these young entrepreneurs who are the spark-plugs of our economy. They are creating small businesses which make real things, offer jobs and deliver services – all the while generating tax revenues for this country.

Their success, and the success of thousands of other small businesses which continue to be started across the country, will play a vital part in pulling us out of the recession.

But this success will not happen by accident. Of course, the biggest factor driving the success or failure of a start-up business is the ability and commitment of the young person to make a go of it – but that is not all.

At a time when we are all worrying about our jobs and our futures, there are some people for whom this is the norm. More than a million young people across the country face immense challenges regardless of whether we have a booming economy or a recession. They are frequently third-generation unemployed, facing immense barriers to get into the world of work.

Not only this but a recent study by Sheffield University and The Prince's Trust shows that young people will bear the brunt of job losses in the current recession, predicting that 40 per cent of those out of work will be under the age of 25 if unemployment reaches three million this year.

So often the same young people are exceptionally enterprising and have a desire to break this cycle of deprivation. Yet starting a business is little more than a distant dream.

This is where The Prince's Trust and other organisations can make such a difference. By providing low-interest loans and business mentors, we help to turn these dreams into reality. Nearly 60 per cent of our businesses are still trading into their third year.

A successful floristry business

This figure compares favourably with the national average, despite the fact that we support young people who have struggled at school, been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law.

It is testament to the ability and spirit of the disadvantaged young people we help, and speaks volumes about the importance of offering many more a second chance in life.

The argument is plain. As well-known names crash around us, the role which small businesses will play in the recovery of Britain’s economy is increasingly vital.

Although helping young people get on to the first rung of the ladder to a small business success is not free, The Prince's Trust can start another young person in business for less than £3000. And the pay-back to our economy, communities and the young entrepreneur, is much, much more than that small initial sum.

The Trust not only helps disadvantaged young people start-up in business – it also supports them into work, education or training. As UK youth unemployment rises at a record pace and politicians increasingly warn of a 'lost generation’, the need for this support is greater than ever.

As times get tighter, there is every chance that we stop providing support for young people just as they need it more than ever. As companies squeeze their corporate social responsibility budgets and individuals tighten their belts in these undeniably difficult times, it is tempting to view charitable giving as an easy saving to make. Yet the long-term costs of failing to give young people a helping hand must be counted in wasted human potential as well as in monetary terms.

I speak to organisations every day who are determined to help us change young lives, despite the recession. But The Trust alone needs £1 million a week to continue this vital work. We’ve had a 50 per cent increase in calls from young people needing our help since the recession started. Support from our corporate and public sector partners is now more important than ever.

Pike Peak, Nepal - fundraising

We are now looking for companies to lend us their support, helping disadvantaged young people into work while bringing benefits to their own productivity and bottom line. Their invaluable contributions have such a huge impact on The Prince’s Trust – making it possible for us to support more than 40,000 young people last year alone. More than three in four of these young people move on to work, education or training.

Unless we keep giving young people the support they need, they will not succeed. We must not let them fail. Our economic future depends on their success.

These companies are just some of The Prince’s Trust’s corporate partners, who are helping thousands of young people into jobs across the UK:


Balfour Beatty is one of The Trust’s valued corporate partners, which aims to raise £500,000 this year to support Britain’s disadvantaged young people. They have quadrupled their fundraising targets for this year despite the credit crunch – and have already supported more than 82 young people who are running community projects such as basketball teams, theatre groups and music and dance workshops in their local communities.

Oracle, Accenture and RBS are just some of the companies to have taken part in the Million Makers challenge, which sees teams of employees competing against each other to raise cash for The Trust. Not only does this help fulfil CSR goals, but also provides free training for staff – which is evermore important during the downturn.

A nude calendar, a Santa fun run and a sponsored slim are some of the bright ideas which raised £500,000 in this year’s Million Makers challenge.

Million Makers 2009 promises to be bigger and better than ever. It will be launched at Go Ape and will see 100 teams from all over the UK competing to raise the most money for the youth charity, enhancing their team-work, leadership and communication skills.

For more information on Million Makers 2009:
e: getinvolved@princes-trust.org.uk
t: 020 7543 7420

Forty-nine intrepid women from companies including Bank of New York Mellon, COA Solutions, and GE scaled Mount Toubkal in 2007 and traversed the Namib Desert in 2008, raising more than £200,000 for The Trust. This year, The Trust is inviting women from across the country to take on another challenging trek through the spectacular Himalayas to the summit of Pike Peak in Nepal, where at over 4000m they may even catch glimpses of Mount Everest.

For more information:
w: www.princes-trust.org.uk/nepal
t: 020 7543 1370

Capgemini is a Platinum Patron of The Trust, and has worked hard to integrate the partnership in to every level of their business. From client hospitality to networking on their sponsored three-day challenge event, Capgemini makes sure that all activities make business sense for both themselves and The Trust. Pro-bono support is a clear way in which they have added real value, saving The Trust money and ensuring greater efficiency in this tough financial climate.

For more information:
w: www.princes-trust.org.uk
t: 020 7543 1370