Project to help young become entrepreneurs

CHILDREN as young as 13 will get the chance to become entrepreneurs as part of a project to boost economic growth which has been devised by a star of BBC TV’s The Apprentice.

Claire Young, from Wakefield, believes the recent riots highlight the need to foster an enterprise culture in deprived parts of Britain.

In November, Ms Young is launching a youth initiative called Teenbiz, which will provide funding for entrepreneurs aged 13 to 18.

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She said yesterday: “We need to encourage aspiration, pride and a go-getting attitude among our young people. The Government is promising the most entrepreneurial decade to date, yet there is little action to reflect this.”

Ms Young, a former pupil at Wakefield Girls’ High School, was a finalist in The Apprentice in 2008. Since then, she’s been involved in a number of initiatives which encourage young people to go into business.

She also heads up the Young Ambassador Network for the National Apprenticeship Service.

According to Ms Young, more than one million people aged 16 to 24 are unemployed.

She believes this is costing the UK economy £10m a day in lost productivity.

Each month, Teenbiz will award a student with £500, the services of Ms Young as a business mentor and a ‘start-up’ pack donated by Teenbiz sponsors.

This pack will include a website, and company stationery. In return, the student will be expected to match the £500 funding.

Ms Young said yesterday: “I’m sick of sitting in Government meetings, where there is all talk and nothing happening. So I’ve decided to get on with it and do it myself.

“You can become a company director at 16, but a person under 18 has no way to access start-up funding. We need to lead from the front and create enterprise schemes that are sustainable. Plenty of people are talking about enterprise and doing nothing, I’d rather put my money where my mouth is and make something happen.”

Ms Young said she was looking for corporate backing, sponsors and mentors to support TeenBiz.

She also hopes a bank will support the project by giving teenagers access to business bank accounts.

She added: “The next generation of Richard Bransons and Alan Sugars aren’t getting the support they need.”

With the right support, Ms Young believes youngsters who fail at school could become successful business people.

With rising youth unemployment, there are fears that large numbers of young people will feel they have become disenfranchised, Ms Young said.

“If you give young people who are categorised as NEETS (People not in employment or education training schemes) a business challenge they are quick off the mark,’’ she added.

“We all have some sort of moral and social responsibility. It’s something you can’t sweep under the carpet. People have started to understand that we need to do something.”

The www.teenbiz.org.uk holding page went live yesterday.

Last year, Ms Young set up a social enterprise called School Speakers, to give children a chance to hear from motivational speakers in the classroom.

Ms Young joined forces with Catherine Yaffe, a recruitment and social media expert and journalist who runs Cat Creative Media, and they have already registered 40 speakers.

Ms Young, a former holiday rep and retail buyer for Superdrug, believes young people, particularly girls, need to hear from someone who can talk to them on equal terms.

Ms Young has also set up Girls Out Loud, another social enterprise designed to raise the aspirations of teenage girls, with speaker and coach Jane Kenyon.

It aims to “reconnect” girls with education, by helping them to do well in exams.

She wants girls to gain the confidence to speak out about economic and political issues that affect them.

Improving the links

Claire Young was a finalist in BBC TV’s The Apprentice in 2008.

She has secured a number of high profile roles in organisations that seek to improve links between business and education.

She is an Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Expert at The Girls’ Schools Association (GSA).

The GSA aims to raise awareness about the benefits of single-sex education for girls.

She is also the president of Young Chamber, a national organisation that aims to bring young people and businesses closer together.