Supporting young entrepreneurs – lessons from USA
Published: 30 Apr 2014
Lee Patterson, from Melton Mowbray, is the Chief Executive of a training company based in the East Midlands. He has recently returned from a research trip awarded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to travel throughout the USA, studying how local communities support young entrepreneurs and their enterprise activities.
For the past 15 years Lee has been involved with young entrepreneurs in the UK, advising and mentoring young people through the Young Enterprise and Prince’s Trust programmes and most recently as Chair of the Education Business Partnership based in Lincoln. Having seen first-hand the challenges that young people face when starting up their own businesses, he wanted to find out how young entrepreneurs are supported in the USA.
With no Federal funding and limited State funding, American youngsters are supported in the main by local initiatives and the philanthropy of local businesses and individuals. Enterprise and entrepreneurship are part of the school curriculum, colleges and universities, and enterprise challenges for young people are routinely sponsored by large corporate companies that have a local presence such as Google, Microsoft, Boeing, Walmart and Capital One bank.
At the University of Southern California In Los Angeles, Lee observed students perfecting a wide range of business skills, from delivering a business pitch to investors to promoting projects to investors. He also visited the Build organisation in Boston, which supports low-achieving high school students by teaching self confidence, English and mathematical skills through enterprise and entrepreneurial activities.
In New Orleans Lee was invited to New Orleans Enterprise Week and was guest at a high school technology challenge sponsored by Google, where 6 high school teams presented their business pitch in competition for a $10,000 grant for seed investment funding.
Now back in the UK, Lee plans to put together an enterprise syllabus that could be incorporated into the English curriculum, giving young British the same opportunities to succeed in business as their American counterparts.