A Manifesto for Youth Enterprise: Making the UK a better place to start up a business - RSA

A Manifesto for Youth Enterprise: Making the UK a better place to start up a business


  • Business and entrepreneurship
  • Work and employment

There has rarely been a better time in recent years for young people to start up in business. Economic growth is picking up pace, unemployment levels are gradually falling, and society as a whole is becoming more confident about the future. Yet arguably more could be done to help young people realise their entrepreneurial potential. Too few young people have a firm intention to start a business, and even if they do many choose not to act upon their ambitions.

This Manifesto for youth enterprise draws upon insights gathered through RBS Inspiring Enterprise to set out a number of practical actions for how we can overcome these challenges. Our vision is for support organisations, business and wider society to be there for young people at every stage in their entrepreneurial journey – from exposing them to the very idea of enterprise through popular media, to building their entrepreneurial acumen at school, to helping them start and run their very own business.

The Manifesto also calls for the enterprise support community to work more closely together to make this journey as seamless as possible. As we learned through the RBS Inspiring Enterprise activities, this kind of reflection and collaboration occasionally falls by the wayside, meaning that the tremendous energy given to supporting young entrepreneurs in the UK is not channelled as effectively as it could be. In short, our ambition is for the work of the youth enterprise support community to become less about size and numbers, and more about results.

Within the Manifesto we set 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