Features - Entrepreneurial Alumni
Posted 01 May 2016
New York Program
May 2003 Intake
Describe your business and your role within it.
Jumpstart Youth is a charity which seeks to empower disadvantaged young people through enterprise. We provide groups of young people with a financial grant, guidance and a mentor. Each group creates, markets and sells a business product. Every group is overseen by a local partner organisation to ensure the wellbeing of the participants, and that there is a clear audit trail of the financial grants. To measure the success of each project, there is less emphasis on profits and more emphasis on the life skills, experiences and confidence gained by those involved. Through involvement in these projects young people will develop and gain key skills to help them in future, as well as hopefully encouraging tomorrow's entrepreneurs.
I am the Director. I am involved with, and oversee, all of the operations.
How did you get into this line of business?
Having been involved in fundraising activities previously, I wanted to have a positive impact on disadvantaged young people. There are so many fantastic charities helping young people, I didn't want to attempt to re-create what was already working. Having been fortunate to have interned with a highly entrepreneurial production company in NY (Urban Myth Media), through Mountbatten, I thought why not use entrepreneurship as a driver to help disadvantaged young people gain life skills and experiences that they might not otherwise have access to. In the process they may be inspired to become entrepreneurs themselves.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
After formulating the idea of Jumpstart, I had to make sure that it wouldn’t simply be replicating what other charities are doing and researched the sector. Although there are some similarities with other organisations, our USPs are that we remove financial barriers to involvement by providing grants instead of loans, and the projects are open to young people from around the world.
The next step was to find trustees who had the knowledge and skills that I lacked. This was imperative as the calibre of trustees will impact on the credibility of the charity. After this, it was a case of developing a business plan, registering as a charity and opening a bank account. Once we finally had the go-ahead the website had to be created, link organisations found and the first income generated.
What else is in the pipeline?
Now that we have groups underway in the UK, South Africa and the West Bank, the next phase is to focus on promotion of the charity, with the aim of generating significant income to fund many projects around the world – including NYC. Also, publicising our website which has a lovely donation page that shouldn’t be missed www.jumpstartyouth.com (subtle plug)!
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
Regarding Jumpstart Youth, it was the beginning of the first project in Cape Town - providing the finance and linking the school with university MBA students acting as mentors.
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
Ask people what they think of your idea, listen to the feedback and act on it! Accept that you won't necessarily have all of the skills and experience for every aspect of the business, seek out people who can fill the gaps. Throughout my time with Jumpstart I have asked many people for their views/guidance and have found that they have been willing to offer so much help – from creating the website for minimal costs, to advising on marketing strategies and offers to act as mentors to the groups.
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
Be passionate about what you do and believe completely in it. Don’t become daunted by the paperwork and bureaucracy that can become overwhelming and frustrating. It has been a long hard slog to get this far, the application process took almost a year for Jumpstart to become a registered charity and be given access to a bank account. During that time I continued to believe that this was the right thing to be doing and that it would get underway. Perseverance eventually paid off!
We would like to wish Matt the very best of luck in his social entrepreneurial endeavour, and are sure he would welcome donations of any size, should anyone wish to support him. The details for how to help, are on his website:- www.jumpstartyouth.com.