As Nadia Twizere stood up to present her business idea at the youth entrepreneurship event in Harrow this Saturday, she said she wanted to “show young people there is a way other than crime”.
Less than 2 weeks after the riots that shook the city, this event showed the positive side of London’s young people. They were graduating from a 7 week programme run by the social enterprise Ghanaian Londoners, and I was there along with the deputy mayor and other local business people to show our support for the project.
Adwoa Agyemang, herself a young entrepreneur, runs the programme and in her opening speech said that entrepreneurship empowers people. When she started out she asked herself – what do I want to be known for?
Looking at the enthusiasm and commitment of these young people it is clear to me that they too are asking the same question. And the answer isn’t the latest iphones or trainers.
There was a large focus on business ideas that make a difference to their communities and a commitment to improving the lives of those around them. With youth unemployment hitting record levels and fees for higher education skyrocketing, I believe there should be more projects like this one. It shows young people that entrepreneurship is a choice to take control of their lives and a way to channel their energies in a positive direction.
They still have a long way to go to make their ideas a reality but they now know it is possible. With so much negativity and dead ends facing young people today, just knowing that the opportunity is out there can be enough to help them forge their own futures.