Youngsters to solve debt crisis with a tenner (maybe)

The Budget’s out today and is set to be the most important since WWII, the Consumer Price Index has shrunk for the first time in 50 years (by -0.4%), but amid all the sombreness and scariness is a whole ebullient amassing of under-18s who are bringing hope to the nation.

Yesterday was the second annual Make Your Mark with a Tenner awards, the challenge that gave 17,000 under-18 year olds £10 each and asked them to make as much money as they could out of it, donating all profit to charity.

The best individual profit was £736.77! That was one Henry Pearce, who spent his tenner renting a 1920s swimming costume then charging friends and family to come and laugh at him wearing it.

And that kind of ROI was by no means a rarity. The average profit made was £42 – that’s 2100 times the return you’d get from your average saving account.

So it’s no wonder that the likes of Peter Jones and Rene Carayol were asking the youngsters if they might keep a space free for them when they set up their future companies.

The lovely super-networker Oli Barrett instigated the challenge, and a massive congratulations goes to him and Make Your Mark who co-organised the event, as well as Peter Jones, NESTA and Smarta investors Xochi and Michael Birch, who put up the cash to make the whole thing possible.

But the people who really inspired and engaged everyone were the competitors, whose more entrepreneurial endeavours included creating a healthy tuck shop, a recipe book that the local community contribute to, a Bollywood dance performance and a young Irish traveller who bought products to sell to children living in her caravan site who were previously relying on the supermarket and their parents.

And, my personal favourite, the pair who created ‘turkeys on a stick’ – inflated Marigold washing-up gloves with four fingers painted red and one as a beak, on a lolly stick. Maybe you have to see them to appreciate quite how wonderful they were. In a kind of, well, hilarious way.

It’s really just as well that the younger generations are taking business initiative. As Peter Jones said yesterday, “The real issue in this country is our entrepreneurial skills are very, very low.” But he pointed to the younger peeps as a promising way forward.

Oli Barrett agreed, emphasising the importance of the newly socially-responsible focus of the task. “Entrepreneurial activity is so important in teaching students not only about managing and making money, but in giving them the opportunity to explore how they can combine turning a profit with making a difference.”

All the judging panel, including also Michelle Dewberry, Benedict Aurora, Jamie Oliver, Baroness Kingsmill and Faisel Rahmen, agreed that they had been filled with hope by the efforts of the under-18s who took part.

As Oli pointed out, “As the Chancellor makes the finishing touch to his Budget speech, he should look no further than our tenner winners for inspiration! A tenner invested in the FTSE during February would have lost money, but these young people managed to turn it into healthy profit averaging £42.”

So now you know where you should really be investing.

  • Find out more about young entrepreneurs in this Smarta special report


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