Amid the sore reminders today that Madoff made off with the money of many and that the UK economy shrunk by a shocking 2.4% in the first quarter of this year - the greatest contraction in more than half a century – comes some altogether more inspiring news.
For today the regional winners of the Young Enterprise Awards have been announced – and there are more than a couple of very bright ideas.
Over the past academic year, 15- to 19-year-olds in partaking schools across the nation have been clubbing together to take part in the Young Enterprise Company Programme, which sees them conceiving a product, registering a company, raising share capital, marketing it, managing company finances and holding weekly board meetings.
Which, as everyone here knows, is no mean series of feats – particularly when you’re trying to squeeze them in around GCSEs and A-levels.
Highlighting the more socially and environmentally aware approach of many of the younger generation of our society, many regional winners created companies that either encouraged a positive approach to multiculturalism (workshops, books) or created eco-friendly products.
Other product ideas that really stand out include South West winner Affintity’s book Prambles, an ingenious idea for a book detailing country walks suitable for parents pushing prams and buggies (which has so far outsold Obama and Stephen Fry in the local Waterstones with sales of 1,150); Farr Woodcraft, whose garden chairs are really quite beautiful and who have capitalised on revenue streams by selling through www.farrwoodcraft.com, so expanding their reach further than just their Scottish base; and Whose Life Is it Anyway, a long overdue book by teenagers in the North East telling parents of teenagers how they should talk to them about sex without making everyone in the room want to fall through the floor in burning embarrassment.
These are some really quite stunning concepts, and it’s incredible to see people of such a young age grabbing the initiative with such verve and having the motivation to follow through on runing a business while still juggling their schoolwork.
And the regional winners are only the very tip of the iceberg – 35,000 young people take part in Young Enterprise programmes in the UK.
Many go on to continue working on their businesses and growing them into very competitive enterprises – some even reach the multimillion pound mark and make very healthy exits. To find out who achieved that, and more about the benefits as well as challenges involved in starting a business young, read our special report on young entrepreneurs.