Youth Association Giving Business the Chance to Nurture Future Talent

Wednesday 29th April 2015 - Posted in Yorkshire Mafia
By Lindsey Davies, Director at Open Communications UK

If there is one thing that the Buy Yorkshire Conference cannot be accused of it’s having 180 exhibitors within the same sector. You know the kind of event where there’s a bank or a legal team round every corner, a stand-off between two shell schemes that go back to back but just happen to be competitors – well, you don’t get that here.

The variety of exhibitors is one of the reasons that the show is so popular and attracts the 4,000 delegates that it does from Yorkshire and beyond.

Today, during the second day of the show, we came across the Youth Association, an organisation which runs a programme called Young Upstarts which professes to ‘turn day dreams into day jobs’. We caught up with Andy Clow to hear more about the organisation and exactly what it has to offer.

So what makes the Young Upstarts programme different?
Recently as an organisation we have launched a youth programme, which gives businesses the chance to ‘choose’ a young person who they would like to support financially to achieve their dreams. These young people have come to us with a viable business idea, we have given them our support, practical advice and encouragement and now they need the funding to make it happen.

Why would businesses choose to do this?
As well as sitting within the CSR policy of many companies, we found that businesses actually wanted to invest in something they could follow and be a part of. It’s not about writing a cheque, it’s about knowing that your money will make a real and lasting impact on a young person’s life.

Why wouldn’t they just go to a bank?
Young Upstarts gives these people an alternative. Many of the young people we work with are from hard to reach backgrounds, they may have dropped out of school with no qualifications or had a difficult time but want to make steps to change that. They need a chance and whereas the banks are in most instances unlikely to help them we have launched a programme that will.

It’s also about an investment rather than a loan. Many young people can be put off by the thought of interest payments and having a loan before they even start – with our programme and corporate support they can put their efforts into launching a business that they are genuinely passionate about.

Is there anything else like this out there?
Not that we are aware of. The ironic thing is that you can pay to ‘adopt’ or support almost anything but one thing that we seem to forget is that young people, the talent of tomorrow, are ready and waiting to start their own businesses and their barrier to doing so is having someone believe in them enough to want to offer some financial start-up capital.

It all sounds great but must be expensive
It’s not expensive at all. You can invest as much or as little as you want. We are hoping to develop almost a crowdfunding model that will mean that each young person has several backers, all of whom can follow their journey.

There must be some risks involved
The risks are like any business – that it doesn’t work. The one thing to remember is that without this funding these young people wouldn’t have the opportunities to proceed with their ideas – or it would be significantly more difficult. You also have to remember that some of these organisations and entrepreneurs will be a success and that those have invested will always be a part of their journey.

So how many people have you actually engaged with?
In the last three years, since we launched the programme, we have captured the attention and imagination of 5,000 young people. In the last 12 months along 2,500 have attended our enterprise workshops and 84 aspiring entrepreneurs have completed the Young Upstarts course, which in turn secures them a qualification that they can use and be proud of.

Can’t young people just go to College or take a vocational course?
From our research we have found that 60% of 18-30 year olds would like to start a business but only 8% are actually becoming start-ups. 67% of people say that the fear of failure stops them becoming entrepreneurs while just 28% of young people think they know where to go for information about start-ups. With figures like these we know that there is a gap in the market for something different, which meets with the diverse and sometimes challenging needs of young people. We are committed to giving them the support and guidance that THEY need. This programme is flexible enough to allow us to do that, unlike many others out there.

How do you keep in touch?
We have just launched a new website www.startwithyes.org with all information included. As organisations invest we will make sure that they have regular updates with regards to each young person and their business. In addition, it may be that companies become mentors, taking even more of a role in the individuals they choose to work with.

Do you have any real life examples or success stories to share?
We have just had a podcast commissioned which showcases just two of the many young people we have supported. It not only shows that we make a real and lasting difference to these people but also the variety of ideas that they come to us with.

For more information about the Youth Association and Young Upstarts programme and the fantastic work that they do please visit www.startwithyes.org or call Andy on tel. 01924 333400.

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