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Economic sustainability? Grow your own entrepreneurs

The Enterprise Challenge and how businesses can contribute to the next generation of entrepreneurs Jonathan Freeman February 18, 2015: Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales, Mosaic’s award-winning and accredited mentoring programmes are designed to improve the future prospects of thousands of young people from some of our most disadvantaged communities. In the UK, where Mosaic is based, it is a sad truth that those...

The Enterprise Challenge and how businesses can contribute to the next generation of entrepreneurs

Jonathan Freeman

February 18, 2015: Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales, Mosaic’s award-winning and accredited mentoring programmes are designed to improve the future prospects of thousands of young people from some of our most disadvantaged communities.

In the UK, where Mosaic is based, it is a sad truth that those from Muslim communities are, relatively speaking, over-represented in our most disadvantaged communities. This is why much of our organisation’s work is focused on this pool of young people for whom opportunities do not easily exist.

We assign mentors from professional backgrounds to encourage and inspire pupils, developing their confidence and self-belief, which can override the destructive cycle of low self-esteem many young people have when they leave school.

The last few months have been a particularly busy time for us, as we near the completion of our mentoring for the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge competition. This annual initiative, supported by the Apax Foundation and Nectar Trust, aims to help thousands of young people aged between 11 and 16 develop their business acumen. The pupils are guided by mentors from the corporate and business sectors and coached on business skills and understanding. The concept, whilst simple, empowers the pupils, building their confidence, self-belief and motivation. One cannot put a price on the impact these role models have on the children.

In today’s tumultuous world, we all have an obligation to help lift young peoples’ aspirations. There has never been a stronger moral case for companies to engage with society than today; everyone deserves to have opportunities in life and Mosaic’s mentors help to instil self-belief.

Linking back to last month’s column, there is an important role for the Islamic finance industry to play in this context. The perils faced by financial and business organisations are not separate from wider society. I considered last month how the spirit inherent in the ‘moral economy’ of Islam could enable a more just and ethical approach to business. Mosaic can help bridge that gap; if you are reading this article, you are very probably an excellent role model as a result of your professional experience and life skills. As individuals, we can make a difference, cultivating the next generation of successful adults who become beacons of positivity, not to mention role models for fellow pupils, siblings and the wider community.

This is not just about giving, it’s also about adding value. This could be through employee development in terms of learning valuable life skills or by increasing motivation in the workplace. Our mentors regularly attest that without the valued support of their employers, they wouldn’t be able to offer their time. Investing in employees creates loyalty, trust and a mode of ethics with which a salary simply cannot compete.

Let us not however lose sight of the real impact of Mosaic: the young people that we help. Last year, thousands of pupils benefitted from mentors who dedicated just six hours of their time over several weeks. So before you move on to the next article, ask yourself the question about what you can do to help develop the next generation of young entrepreneurs and how you could help. You wouldn’t believe the difference you can make in such a small time – and you will feel rewarded in ways that you won’t believe.

Jonathan Freeman is Managing Director of HRH The Prince of Wales’s charitable mentoring initiative Mosaic (www.mosaicnetwork.co.uk)

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