In general, my role is growing and supporting the development of the City of Hull’s entrepreneurial culture, working in schools and colleges and the University to do this. We run a programme for under 16s where a business advances a group of young people a small sum of money and they have to turn it into a profit.
We give grants and business advice to young people aged 13 to 21 via the John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Bank. As part of this, we can support those that have experienced the care system aged up to 29.
We have a fund for those that wish to develop a STEM related business and a programme for 16 to 29 year olds who wish to develop their enterprise skills. Many of these go on to self-employment with the support of mentors and a Test Market Grant called Making Changes for Careers.
Measuring the impact of our activities
We use case studies of current young entrepreneurs that we have supported as evidence. These are invaluable, showing how the they have adapted the enterprise skills we promote.
We also ask the young people to become ambassadors. At the moment we have ten young people who are Youth Enterprise Ambassadors and we are currently recruiting for a Youth Enterprise Champion to help with our Making Changes for Careers Programme.
Low budget, high impact projects
Our £5 Blossom Programme, which gives loans to young people in schools with the support of a business mentor, is the lowest cost budget wise. While our Youth Enterprise Bank that gives on average £500 with general business support has achieved great success.
In 13 years, we have supported 550 enterprising young people in Hull, East Riding and Ryedale. Much of this is funded via fundraisers and donations from Hull’s business community.
For example, 8 years ago KCOM, a telecommunications company, gave £20,000 a year for 3 years to provide grants. KCOM have now agreed to not only to mentor enterprising young people, but also to enable them to advertise their services at Hull City AFC on match days.
Who else supports the network?
Every one of our 65 partners and individuals, including many micro businesses and retired business owners, are important allies. But the most important are the young entrepreneurs we have helped in the past.
They are very willing to put something back by becoming active members of the Youth Enterprise Bank. They help to organise events and activities during Business Week and Global Entrepreneurship Week.
We also commission young people to deliver many events and activities linking in with our Youth Enterprise ambassadors.
Our challenges and goals for the next 5 years
To keep things together will be a challenge with a range of cut backs that are taking place.
My biggest goal is to persuade the banks to give full business bank account privileges and support to those young people who set up or want to set up in business. After all, if they get them to sign up at a young age, they will have good customers in the future.
So far, we have established good working relationships with 3 banks who are involved in our work and two of them are involved in our very own Youth Enterprise Bank.
The current economic climate
Does this impact the budget available for the work we do? Or do cut backs mean there's more need to be creative in identifying supporting projects that do not need much funding?
It’s certainly a challenge and we will step up to it with the support of partners and the city’s business community. We're looking to establish an enterprise club with Jobcentreplus for the under 18s in Hull so we can start working with young people whose only route into the labour market is through self-employment.
Advice to people with similar responsibilities
By developing an enterprise culture amongst young people, you can change how your area develops as an economic power house using the imagination and drive of your young people.
Do not give in. It’s worth it in the end.