Young entrepreneurs, especially those who choose not to enter tertiary education, face real barriers when entering business. Fortunately, there are organisations that can help.
With the limited curriculum that time imposes on most educational systems, those who leave school at 16 and who don’t go on to tertiary education end up entering a world in which they lack business knowledge and experience. They frequently lack saleable skills, and usually have no access to start-up finance. These are very genuine barriers to entering the business world and make this category of young entrepreneur genuinely disadvantaged.
Unfortunately, they seldom attract any attention but they have plenty of potential to be successful business operators, often as self-employed business people or maybe working with a small team. But to become successful they need to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills, find experienced mentors and gain access to finance. In the United Kingdom, the organisation par excellence for helping young (and therefore disadvantaged) entrepreneurs is The Prince’s Trust, set up in 1976 by HRH The Prince of Wales when he left the Royal Navy. Now, some 40 years later and having helped over 825 000 young people in the UK, he recalled that decision saying, “What struck me was that young people weren’t being given the opportunities quickly enough. No one was putting the trust in them that they needed.” In a video on the Trust’s website, he explains his rationale in greater depth. In 2014, The Prince’s Trust International was set up to expand the Trust’s activities overseas.
The Prince is an indefatigable supporter of youth enterprise. “I have always been of the opinion that young people have the skills and energy to make a real difference to our world, and we must do all that we can to harness their talents.” In addition to The Prince’s Trust, he has set up Youth Business International. In each case, the organisation can help young people find and attend the right training courses, obtain the right skills and access the necessary funds.
Similar support can be obtained from the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme, which is financed through the EU and operates through local contact points in Member States. So, even though youthful entrepreneurs face many disadvantages, this shouldn’t stop them from developing a business.
More information and a lot of useful ideas can be found at the following organisations: