Call for Evidence: APPG for Entrepreneurship – Entrepreneurship Education
Sam Smith, CEO, finnCap Group:
This week, I had the pleasure of kicking off the discussion of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (AAPG) for Entrepreneurship’s Call for Evidence. Hosted by The Entrepreneurs Network, this roundtable discussed the topic of Entrepreneurship Education – an important subject for me and for finnCap.
Personally, I have always had a great belief in fairness, together with a keen understanding of what drives ambition in young people and how we can give young people the best possible chance in life. What lights that spark? What gets you on the right path? How does one avoid the wrong path?
When my daughter was about three, she started to ask me what I did for a job. I would explain it to her, and I realised quite quickly that at a very young age we can understand the principles of what makes an entrepreneur or starting a company, when you make it relatable. I’d point at the sink, the chairs, the TV, the kitchen pans, our food, and explain to my daughter that a company produces or makes all these things. This was when I realised that this kind of education can – and needs to – start early.
It's this thinking that has led to finnCap’s work with Stepping Into Business, working to deliver entrepreneurship programmes into primary schools. We had in fact worked with around 20 schools up until the pandemic hit. The theme that emerged was that this course delivered great life skills, but was also engaging those children that might have otherwise been forgotten.
Through this I became more convinced, that putting education on the curriculum was important, not just to teach relevant skills but also spark that ambition in those that could have been overlooked.
finnCap now works with YourGamePlan, which has delivered tailored entrepreneurship courses to secondary schools and colleges. And we are partnered with YourGamePlan on The Side Hustle Initiative, a nationwide competition to back ambitious 14-18-year-olds with brilliant side hustle business ideas.
And this is the crux. It isn’t as much about making money as it is about solving problems and creating and seizing opportunities. In many ways we almost need to decouple the ideals of wealth and becoming an entrepreneur.
Herein lies an opportunity to be inclusive with children and young people of any background, or those that don’t necessarily shine in the ‘classic’ classroom subjects, to create a different pathway for themselves from an early age. We tell young children that they are good at sports, good at art, good at drama; imagine telling a young child that you recognise their entrepreneurial flair. Imagine how transformative that could be.
And aside from encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit in general, there are more practical applications in building foundations in financial and digital literacy skills, as well as considering the entrepreneurial attributes of creativity, teamwork, problem-solving and empathy at their root.
This needs to be accessible for everyone. It is game changer in the life chances of many children. Finding the next great idea, sparking ambition in someone, making kids think of a career path where the new, the fresh, and the disruptive are encouraged.
Entrepreneurship is open to everyone from any background, any colour, and any age. Opening children’s eyes to these possibilities not only improves their lives, but can change everyone else’s too and will benefit the future of the UK economy.
The challenge to make things happen is that we need ideas that are scalable – training the trainers, for example, giving some 500,000 teachers across 25,000 schools the tools and platforms to enable this. We need a government representative to make this subject a staple part of their agenda.
We are in the nascent stages of this discussion, but the discussion has begun in earnest and the ideas that come from a multitude of perspectives are already inspiring. This Call for Evidence sets the direction for the Briefing Paper and our efforts to influence policy, and I am very excited for what is to come.