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Level Up: Changing Lives through Enterprise

is a report from Launch It and small business support network Enterprise Nation.  The report follows the fortunes of 32 young entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and socially and economically deprived communities.




Bury North

“As a result of COVID-19, we will have at least a million young people unemployed.  Many have the skills, aspiration and determination to set up a business but sometimes they don’t believe they can do it.  I believe there is a huge opportunity for Government and local groups to target support to these young people, for example investing in empty buildings to give entrepreneurs rent free opportunities, mentoring and peer to peer networking opportunities to get started and establish their business without the prohibitive costs they normally face for many years.”

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Enterprise Nation

“This report demonstrates that entrepreneurship impacts equality, social mobility and the earning potential of young people from deprived areas and diverse, often BME, backgrounds as well as delivering a boost to their local economy and community. “

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“Starting a business has caused a positive domino effect in my life and in the business, that I am passing on to the community as well. They need it. In my business, eight out of 10 of my employees are young people from London.”


Entrepreneurship as a career path brings

unique benefits to young people from

economically and socially challenged areas

in the UK, helping them to overcome barriers

in the longer term.

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Despite the benefits, this report highlights there are still major barriers entrepreneurs in deprived areas of the UK face when starting and growing their business:

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+To be a successful entrepreneur, a young person

   needs the confidence to actively avoid the more

   ‘conventional’ education and employment path that

   is presented

Interviewees were unanimous that their education

   had contributed very little to their success in business

   and they were learning ‘on the job’

Financial barriers are significant, with almost

   90% of survey respondents financing their new

   businesses from their personal savings, with a strong

   aversion to borrowing and taking on more debt.


Based on the research, Launch It and Enterprise Nation are putting forward recommendations for tackling social inequality, creating positive opportunities for young people and the communities in which they live and work.  Here are 4 key issues to consider:

Entrepreneurship must be included as a valid career option 

Schools, colleges or universities offering career fairs, career counselling and job centres advisors should promote entrepreneurship as a positive career choice and point young people towards relevant training to get started.

Creating more affordable working space 

Local authorities should prioritise offering underused community buildings and spaces, to charities and business support groups that help entrepreneurs. In addition, spaces dedicated to business support in deprived communities should be exempt from business rates and high rents by local government to ensure support remains affordable.

Micro-grants and financial education to accompany funding 

Micro-grants should be made available to under-represented entrepreneurs together with education about financing and debt management to increase options available.

Developing entrepreneurship and business skills

Apprenticeship levy rules should include entrepreneurial apprenticeships for those interested in more formal qualifications.   Central government, Local Enterprise Partnerships and businesses through their CSR programmes should prioritise skills training and mentoring for entrepreneurs from economically challenged backgrounds.

On July 31st, 2020, Enterprise Nation and Launch It ran a virtual roundtable discussion with James Daly MP, Chair of the APPG for Youth Employment and 5 of the entrepreneurs featured in the report.  Watch this insightful discussion here:


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