Friday, 16 May 2008

Prince's Trust Enterprise Leadership

On Thursday, because I'm the current Chairman of the Prince's Trust Technology Leadership Group, I was invited to the Prince's Trust Enterprise Leadership Conference. It was a moving, interesting and thoroughly enjoyable event.

Moving - nobody could have failed to be moved with Gina Moffatt's story of how the Prince's Trust helped her to form her flower business - Blooming Scent - after a pretty troubled past (which Gina was most open about but I won't go into here). Her relationship with Dragon's Den, James Caan, illustrates how the mentoring programme is the REAL DIFFERENCE that the Prince's Trust can make (although not all mentors are quite as famous as James!)

Interesting - because it showed how effective the Prince's Trust can be in getting young, disadvantaged people back into believing in themselves to such an extent that they make real contributions to society. Even from a financial view point, the average person that the Prince's Trust Business Programme supports contributes £3000 more to the Exchequer than the typical young person. For each £1 invested, £2 is returned. Not bad!

It also demonstrated what a pent-up demand there was amongst young people to form their own business. In a survey by the Prince's Trust, over 40% of young people interviewed wanted to start their own business but only 6% actually did. The UK was considered a pretty unattractive place for young people to start their own business; particularly compared to the US.

Enjoyable - because I just love talking to all these young people and sharing their enthusiasm. On the other hand rubbing shoulders with Dragons, ministers, newsreaders and a Prince, can be pretty entertaining too.

And Alistair Darling actually made the audience laugh. Must be a first! One of the most successful technology businesses that the Prince's Trust Business Programme has supported is Kashflow (some of you will have seen its founder Duane Jackson at several Technology Leadership Group events) Darling said in his speech "One of the first people we met was someone who has invented something called KashFlow. I indicated that the Treasury is just across the road and may be very happy to buy a copy of his software." This made the audience laugh for some reason!

Holway, from the floor at question time, also made his usual points about providing more Enterprise role models in the media for young people, more government financial support for the Prince's Trust (in particular a return of the £4£ matching funding the Prince's Trust used to enjoy) and getting a clearer message of welcome for serial entrepreneurs in the UK.

You can read more on the Prince's Trust website at Business bosses back business programme ; even watch the videos. Also details of the considerable press comment this stimulating conference provoked.

Obviously, if you would like to get involved in the Prince's Trust Technology Leadership Group, please drop me an email on

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