After one of our money masterclasses in Tower Hamlets, we got chatting to a couple of the young participants: Raju and Alimuz, both 15 years old. These two enterprising boys showed us that young people really do have the inspiration and the power to bring about positive change in their community.
In a borough where 28% of young people are unemployed, today’s problems of boredom and debt can easily become tomorrow’s ills of anti-social behaviour and crime.
Raju and Alimuz made the firm decision to take a different path, hatching an enterprise scheme that would not only keep them and their friends off the street, but would also offer training and support to families and children from their estate. The idea was to use a small plot of garden for a low-cost bike repair business.
They belong to a youth empowerment group called Leaders in Community, run by 24-year-old Momtaz Begum. Back in November 2010, Momtaz called in MyBnk to get these boys’ business idea off the ground and help them take control of their financial lives. We helped them draw up a concrete plan of action with price lists, partnerships and promotion plans.
“Before MyBnk came in, they had just started exploring the idea. We really wanted the young people to see how important it is to run the business properly,” explains Momtaz.
This April we returned to help the group build on their confidence, skills and knowledge around money management – covering banking, saving, earning, borrowing and managing money.
“MyBnk taught us the value of money, how we can cut down on what we spend,” says Raju. “That’s going to help us out a lot. Instead of just splashing out and buying excess things, we can buy really useful things.”
Raju and Alimuz’s business is taking shape and will launch this summer after their GCSEs. The boys are also making arrangements with local police to collect, renovate and re-sell confiscated bikes.
So far, they have managed to raise an amazing £300, which they will use to buy tools, spare parts and puncture kits, and to invest in marketing materials.
“If we weren’t doing this, we’d be chilling in the streets with our mates, hanging around for no reason…” says Alimuz.
“It’s gonna keep others off the streets as well,” adds Raju. “Because we’re gonna do workshops for families and teach kids how to ride bikes.”
Momtaz believes that the impact of the enterprise will be even more far-reaching, helping to change local people’s attitudes towards youth. “They’re already starting to show the community that they’re not a difficult group, but valuable members of the community.”
We at MyBnk will be following the boys’ progress as their enterprise takes off. With such a strong idea, bolstered by foundational skills and training, we have every confidence that it is going to be a big success, catapulting them into entrepreneurial stardom and inspiring others along the way!