To St James’s Palace (armed with numerous forms of ID) to celebrate 30 years of the Enterprise Education Trust (previously known as Understanding Industry and then Business Dynamics).
The Duke of York, in his role as the Trust’s patron, was there. (It is his gaff, after all.) So too was Trust chairman Sir Paul Judge, one of Britain’s most eminent entrepreneurs who led the UK’s first mega-buyout of Premier Brands from Cadbury-Schweppes back in 1985. Also among A-list guests were Sir Roy Gardner, former CEO of British Gas, chairman of Manchester United and many others.
Sir Paul made a witty, and provoking speech in which he highlighted the pervasive scepticism about business among school children. "Only a third of pupils have a positive view of business," he said. (He also observed, slightly bizarrely, that kids’ negative opinions are compounded because one-third of murders are of business people. But maybe I misheard that bit.)
The Enterprise Education Trust is at the forefront of changing such attitudes through its numerous programmes in schools. One of the most prominent is the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, the BTEC-accredited programme that helps young people run their own business.
The star of last night’s show, 16-year-old Molly Keane, waxed lyrical about the benefits of the NFTE programme. Molly, who goes to college in Walthamstow, east London, is a performing artist who wanted to find a way to make money from her passion. With the support of NFTE, she and two friends set up Bits & Bows, a venture that enabled other children to create their own fashion accessories at school. "NFTE made me feel sophisticated," said Molly. "It taught me to be successful and opened so many doors for me. I’m now able to visualise my future."
She certainly came across as an entrepreneur in the making and we’ll be following her and the progress of Enterprise Education with great interest.