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A culmination of the findings from the first year of RBS’s Inspiring Enterprise initiative, the Manifesto argues that more could be done to help young people at every stage of their ‘entrepreneurial journey’ – from exposing them to the very idea of entrepreneurship through popular media, to developing their entrepreneurial abilities in school, to helping them start and scale their own venture.

Parents, teachers and enterprise support organisations should work closer together to show how running a business can help young people achieve their goals in life, according to a Manifesto for Youth Enterprise published by the RSA and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

View the Manifesto for Youth Enterprise report

As part of its aim to help 100,000 more young people discover entrepreneurship by 2015, RBS Inspiring Enterprise and the RSA spoke to over 120 young people to find out more about the barriers facing young entrepreneurs.  Today’s Manifesto for Youth Enterprise sets out a list of 15 key ‘principles’ designed to help more young people realise their entrepreneurial potential. These include:

  • Shining a light on the ‘everyday entrepreneurs’ that young people can more easily relate to and be inspired by, rather than solely ‘celebreneurs’ that may put entrepreneurship on a pedestal

  • Exposing more young people to enterprise-related learning by embedding it throughout school curricula and FE/HE courses, rather than treating it as a bolt-on exercise

  • Going beyond traditional support such as financial help and advice, to provide young entrepreneurs with hands-on practical help – for example assistance with website development – that would enable them to take their product or service to market more rapidly.

  • Ensuring support for young entrepreneurs gets beyond London and the ‘vogue industries’ like the creative and technology sectors, to support young people in whatever location or industry they are in

  • Supporting young people to sustain and grow their businesses throughout their entrepreneurial journey – not just in the early stages of establishing their venture

  • Boosting demand for the products and services of young entrepreneurs, for example by encouraging large corporations to build them into their supply chains or helping them win contracts with local authorities

  • Encouraging the media to avoid using the term ‘failure’ to describe the act of closing a business –explaining instead how dropping in and out of business is part and parcel of life as an entrepreneur

The research reveals that the UK lags behind France, Germany and the United States in terms of start-up rates among young people. 1 in 7 young people in the US are in the early stages of starting a venture, compared to 1 in 17 in the UK.

The Manifesto calls for the enterprise support community to work more closely together so that the tremendous energy given to supporting young entrepreneurs in the UK is channelled as effectively as it can be. Setting up a common evaluation system for tracking ‘what works’, and arranging secondments between support organisations, are two suggestions noted in the Manifesto.   

“Our findings reveal that enterprise support has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years alone. However, it is also clear that there is much more we could do to help young people start up in the world of business. Too few young people act on their ambition to start a business, and even if they do, many cease trading shortly after starting. This is something we are seeking to address through RBS Inspiring Enterprise.”

Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Enterprise, added:

“Raising levels of aspiration among young people, and giving them the confidence to work for themselves, has been a key priority of mine - and I know the Prime Minister shares this view. Support needs to start at a young age in schools and colleges, and continue right the way through to higher education where students can gain inspiration and access to practical help to be their own boss. The UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a business, and if young people want to take that step we need to make sure they have every chance available to them."

View the Manifesto for Youth Enterprise report

Notes to editors

  1. For more information contact RSA Head of Media Luke Robinson on 020 7451 6893 or 07799 737 970 or

  2. The RBS Inspiring Enterprise project has committed by the end of 2015, to:

  • Help 100,000 young people to explore enterprise, develop their skills and start up in business, whatever their background;

  • Inspire and enable 20,000 women to explore and unlock their enterprise potential;

  • Support 2,500 social enterprises, working in partnership with the sector to improve access to expertise, markets and finance.

  • For more information please visit

  1. RBS and the RSA point to recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor figures indicating that support could be improved in a number of areas. Of the 10 per cent of young people who say they want to create their own business, only a third are actually doing so. Moreover, there is a 1 in 3 chance that those who do start-up will drop out within their first 12 months, compared to 1 in 10 people over the age of thirty.


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