Not Just Us (NJU)

Our ‘Not Just Us’  programme is a unique model. It gives young people and communities the knowledge to change an unfair world; both as more informed consumers and as the ETHICAL ENTREPRENEURS of tomorrow.

NJU groups also give young people the opportunity to create their own social enterprises, learn business skills and earn some money for a cause.

NJU is not just about creating your ‘usual’ social enterprises. NJU groups are ETHICAL enterprises that have the support and advice from some of the world’s leading ethical entrepreneurs – who help the groups to have a greater understanding of how unfair and imbalanced the current system of trade and business is.  Many of our groups can also engage directly in ethical trade supporting small producers in developing countries – contributing to strengthening their own business skills – and promoting ethical trade.

Nor are these just your ‘usual’ young people.  Our approach has been designed to work with young people who may not be ‘academic achievers’, who may come from ‘deprived’ areas, who may not go to the ‘best’ schools – but who may well be the ethical entrepreneurs of tomorrow. And our approach has also been tried, tested and proven to work with many other marginalised groups.

Why We’re Taking This Approach

Awareness of ethical and fair trade hasn’t yet fully reached many marginalised communities in the UK.  People from less affluent backgrounds – those who may also not have the best academic opportunities – often possess natural entrepreneurial talent; but they usually lack the necessary support to find out more about a career in ethical trading.

Some schools and colleges in the UK offer training on enterprise – but this is nearly always about the ‘Dragon’s Den’ approach to enterprise; profit at all costs. Some educational institutions and organisations offer social enterprise training; but none have the business contacts and partner producer links that we have and the drive to put poverty eradication before profit.

This means that the NJU programme is highly unusual.  It is about delivering ethical enterprise learning and opportunities and linking producer organisations with those in the UK who wouldn’t normally have the chance to do anything quite as exciting or life-changing as this!

But we unashamedly have an ulterior motive. We also aim to raise the amount of ethical trading occurring in the world.  We do this by stimulating awareness of, and demand for, fairly traded products amongst less affluent communities in the UK – whilst at the same time increasing innovation and enterprise in the sector.

The Programme

Young Ethical EnterpriseThe programme began in 2009 with a group in Huddersfield, which we set up in partnership with the local Pakistani Youth Forum.

We have set up many more groups across Yorkshire and the North West, all learning the principles of ethical and fair trading, international development, and  business approaches which can benefit entire communities rather than just a few individuals.

Over the last 9 years, we have helped hundreds of – often marginalised – young people to develop new enterprise skills and self confidence. Between them, they have created and sold ethical products as diverse as coffee, tea, cosmetics, chocolate and T-shirts. They have set up micro enterprises and earned money for their groups and good causes. But more than this, they have gained the experience and confidence to step out in to the world of work and business, as confident young people.

But soon our work really began to take off and we were asked to set up initiatives that focussed on not only youth, but on those with different types of disabilities, long-term unemployed adults, the elderly, homeless, domestic violence survivors and recovering addicts.

Our Successes – NJU Future

Our Big Lottery Funded NJU programme recently came to an end – and you can read about our fantastic achievements here.  In order to help as people as possible in the UK, we have now taken the unusual step of mirroring our approach with our international ‘Farmers’ Voice Radio’ work – i.e. giving our learning and our resources away for FREE – to any community group or organisation who is committed to creating a new generation of ethical entrepreneurs.

What Next?

So, right now, we are now working on an Open Source approach – to roll out all of our learning – to communities who need it the most.

We are looking for sponsors, funders and partners who want to help us to do this. Get in touch if you would like an informal discussion about how you could work with our small-but-mighty charity!