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  • Oliver Hodgson

Calling all aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners...

A new programme has been launched in Cumbria to inspire and support the next generation of young entrepreneurs.

As our region begins to count the cost of the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of jobs already lost and yet more predicted to come, young people are being given a chance to create their own livelihoods – by becoming their own business owner.

TEGvirtual CiC is creating The Young Entrepreneurs Group concept, to be piloted in Cumbria, is the brainchild of Keith McMean, an entrepreneur whose vision for a robust local economy has always focused on unity in local communities, with business leaders using their expertise to set young talent on the road to employment. He is also hoping that other well-known business leaders and groups will join him.

Keith is an entrepreneur who is passionate about making a difference and is giving his time freely to seeing this project succeeds.

Keith said: “Parts of Cumbria, West Cumbria in particular, have a disproportionate number of disadvantaged young people who have always faced barriers to employment. The jobs situation is bad and sadly will get worse.

“The talent, skills and new ideas are out there, all it needs is to be noticed and for those who want to carve a career for themselves by running their own business to have the right people behind them to turn a dream into reality.

“It’s a case of capturing the vision then, with guidance, putting it into place.”

"To kick-start the pilot project, young people from Cumbria who have ideas for their own business, but need help along the way, are being called upon to record a brief video about themselves and their plans ahead of discussions with a panel of local entrepreneurs who have “been there and done it”.

All they need to set them off is to be aged between 16 and 25, have a passion to succeed, believe in their ideas, be open to feedback, be prepared to learn about business and to work tirelessly on their ideas.

In return, they will receive practical help, advice and guidance in essential areas such as finance, tax and VAT, marketing, new technology, company law, recruitment and they will be matched with experienced entrepreneurs who may ultimately look to invest in their businesses in the future. The information will be delivered through an online entrepreneurs’ portal supported by TEGvirtual CiC, while we have restrictions on face-to-face meetings and training. This is changing with the introduction of the TEG Secure Bubble.

Keith continued: “I constantly hear about young people who have a passion for music, dance, technology, health and fitness, food, fashion, hair and beauty and believe they can make a living out of things they simply love to do.”

"I was pretty much like them when I started my business journey – I had the ideas but hadn’t a clue about running a business or putting something like a business plan or BMC together. I would have benefited immensely from this type of support and this is where we can succeed with our disadvantaged young people to help make them self-sufficient so that, once they become established, they can begin to employ others and start to turn the wheels of the local economy.”

The current UK economic crisis is reported to be pushing an additional 600,000 young people into unemployment in the current year, causing long-term damage to their pay and future job prospects, so starting their own business is a perfect way to boost the economy and help young people create an income.

There is some alarming reading contained in the Youth Unemployment Statistics briefing paper released on the 26th of January 2021:

Comparing the latest quarter, September-November 2020, with the pre-pandemic quarter of January-March 2020:

• Unemployment for young people has increased by 68,000, a 13% increase. The increase for men was 50,000, a 17% increase, while the increase for women was 18,000, an 8% increase.

• The unemployment rate has increased to 14.2% from 12.1%.

• The number of young people in employment has fallen by 231,000, a 6% fall. The fall for men has been larger, with employment levels falling by 8% for men and by 5% for women.

• 137,000 more young people have become economically inactive.

Keith is only too aware of the impact of these statistics on the local economy and said:

“By learning how to create their own business, they’ll be taking small steps to turn their passions and interests into money-making concerns and create their own prosperity. By taking control of their own destinies, their hard work and ingenuity will help to keep alive their own Cumbrian communities which have been so severely affected over the years by recessions and unemployment.”

TEGvirtual is also looking for experienced entrepreneurs willing to have a practical input and happy to give their time into supporting young people with their new ventures.

Their role, as experienced entrepreneurs, will be to professionally connect with the aspiring business owners and share their knowledge and business journeys with them.

Keith concluded: “Cumbria has a strong network of professionals operating across many different fields whose knowledge is going to be vital in giving these young people the confidence to start out on their own. I’m sure many will identify with them their own early start-up days and will be able to relate to the ups, downs, passions and problems of the road leading to success.”

Applicants should send the videos of themselves and their business ideas by email to and experienced entrepreneurs are also requested to register their interest in the project by sending an email to in the first instance.

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