Justine Greening meets Huddersfield man at launch of scheme for young entrepreneurs

Cumberworth man Michael Butcher is among young people backing a scheme to help firms in developing countries

Michael Butcher (left) with International Development Secretary Justine Greening (centre) and other young people backing the ICS Entrepreneur scheme

A Huddersfield man is helping enterprising young people in the UK to work with businesses in developing countries.

Michael Butcher, of Cumberworth, was among a group to meet International Development Secretary Justine Greening before the announcement of the scheme, ICS Entrepreneur.

Michael volunteered in India last year with the charity Raleigh International, working alongside Indian volunteers to support the work of local charities.

The 23-year-old was one of a number of young people in Kirklees to volunteer on the government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) scheme. He has now taken up a new job with a social enterprise that aims to support small businesses both in the UK and sub-Saharan Africa.

Building on the success of the current ICS programme, ICS Entrepreneur will pair UK volunteers aged 18 to 25 with volunteers of a similar age from some of the poorest communities in the world. Together, these volunteers will work alongside entrepreneurs overseas to help them grow their businesses.

Volunteers will build business skills, confidence and knowledge of overseas markets so they can return home to become the entrepreneurs and business leaders that Britain needs to remain a global success. Meanwhile, host countries will benefit from the volunteers’ hard work, helping them to become more competitive and, ultimately, less reliant on aid.

The 18 to 25-year-olds selected will spend up to three months working in start-up enterprises and companies in fast growing economies like Bangladesh, Nigeria and Tanzania creating business plans, managing finances, devising marketing and boosting sales.

ICS Entrepreneur is part of the UK’s successful VSO-led International Citizen Service programme. About 400 young people will go through the programme over the next 18 months and participants will also qualify for academic credit that can be used towards qualifications from the Open University.

Ms Greening said: “Britain was built on the dynamism and graft of its entrepreneurs and our country’s future will be no different. That’s why we’re investing in the skills and energy of young people, no matter where in the UK they’re from or what their background, so that we continue to be competitive and successful.

“For anyone determined to be the next James Dyson or Hilary Devey, this is an amazing opportunity to kick-start a career in business and entrepreneurship. It’s a win-win for the host countries where the volunteers will work and great for British employers who are crying out for workers with the right skills and a global perspective.”

Brian Rockliffe, director of ICS, said: “ICS Entrepreneur is based on the established principles which underpin ICS and its proven approach in bringing together young people from the UK to work alongside young people from developing countries to contribute effectively to international development.

“ICS Entrepreneur will not only support private sector development and economic growth in developing countries, but it will also enable skilled young volunteers – both from the UK and in-country – to build a global perspective and a practical understanding of the vital role of economic development in reducing poverty.”

A recent survey of chief executive officers in the UK highlighted concerns that young people’s horizons were not broad enough for a globalised and multicultural economy – warning that Britain risked being left behind unless this issue was addressed.

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