Young Entrepeneurs

I recently attended a fundraising event for Futureversity, a terrific charity dedicated to helping every young person to fulfil their full potential.  Established in Tower Hamlets in London, Futureversity provides free courses and activities for 11-25 year olds to help them develop the skills and self-belief they need to make the most of their lives.

Part of their work involves getting businesses to give young people real experience of the world of work through introductory courses, seminars, apprenticeships, internships and mentoring.

Futureversity succeed in getting nearly two thirds of the unemployed young people who enrol on their Job Ready employability programme into sustained employment or training within six months of completion.  That's an inspiring achievement in today's very difficult environment for youth employment.

Giving young entrepreneurs a hand was a key theme of a new report last week by Lord Young of Graffham, one of my constituents.  One of his most eye-catching proposals is to provide StartUp Loans to entrepreneurs under 25, building on a scheme that has already been very successfully run by The Prince's Trust.

Lord Young points out that there are 4.5 million small businesses in the UK, that the number is growing all the time, and that surveys show the UK to be the most entrepreneurial country in Europe.

But there's more to be done: if we had the same rate of entrepreneurial activity as the United States we would have 900,000 more companies, and consequently a much lower unemployment rate.

The StartUp scheme will introduce budding entrepreneurs to a mentor who will help them with a business plan and to bid for money.  The average loan of £2,500 is usually all that is needed to get a viable business off the ground.

Locally, we have Kate's Cakes which started as a small business in 1989 and is now a highly successful company and major local employer based at Washington. 

Behind every successful business there is someone who was willing to take a risk and give it a go - and these entrepreneurs need an enterprise climate which backs them.

That's why, when I met the Sussex & Surrey Federation of Small Businesses recently, I was pleased to sign up to their ‘Real Life Entrepreneurs' Campaign.

Britain needs young entrepreneurs to succeed.

Christopher N Howarth