Picture the scene. This young wannabe-entrepreneur wants a couple of thousand pounds to start a business. Here’s his profile:
Marital Status: Engaged, pregnant fiancée
Employment Status: Long-term unemployed
Business Experience: None
Qualifications: None (left school at 15)
Own Capital to invest: £0.00
Other information: Been in trouble with the police, No family support (grew up in childrens homes in Newham)
So what do you think? Would you lend him money? The banks certainly wouldn’t. And this was back in the heady days of 2003 – so you’d have thought they’d at least offer him a £500k Ninja mortgage.
OK, less of the “him”. In case you hadn’t already worked it out, the person described above is me 6 years ago when I wanted to start my first business.
No one was interested in helping me, and I can’t blame them really. There was only one organisation that was willing to give me the time of day: The Prince’s Trust.
From what I’d heard about the Prince’s Trust, I thought I could just go along, say I wanted to start a business and they’d hand over a cheque. It didn’t quite happen like that. They made sure my business plan was viable and they assigned someone to work with me to get it into shape. I then had to do some training in the basics of running a business. Only then did I get the money I needed.
But the support didn’t stop there. In my first couple of years of business there were plenty of opportunities to network with other Prince’s Trust supported businesses and to attend workshops to learn more about all sorts of things from PR to marketing, to time management and so on.
But there’s nothing exceptional about this story. The Prince’s Trust have helped over 70,000 ‘underprivileged’ people start a business over the years – and those business statistically have a greater chance of succeeding than the average.
I can honestly say that KashFlow wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the Prince’s Trust. And the Trust wouldn’t be able to do what it does if it wasn’t for donations from individuals and big companies. I’m particularly grateful to the Technology Leadership Group whose members have donated over £7m to the Trust since 2002.
One of the bigger supporters of the Trust over the years has been RBS, and specifically Sir Fred Goodwin. Something to bear in mind whilst the media vilifies him.
I know that a few big companies read this blog. So if you’re a head honcho at one of the companies that already donates – thank you. If you’re not then I hope you’ll consider donating to the Trust.