Our ‘Not Just Us’ programme is a unique model. It gives communities the knowledge to change an unfair world; both as more informed consumers and as the ETHICAL ENTREPRENEURS of tomorrow.
NJU groups also give communities the opportunity to create their own ethical enterprises, learn business skills and earn money for a local or charitable cause.
But 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 – people who help the groups to have a greater understanding of the current imbalanced trade system and who help them to build a new business that challenges it.
In creating NJU, our approach has been to work with people who are marginalised in some way or another. To date, we have worked with people from poorer socio-economic backgrounds, BAME and white working-class youth, disabled and neurodivergent adults, pensioners. homeless people and refugees.
NJU group members may not always have had the best in terms of formal education, but research has proven that some of the world’s best entrepreneurs did not enjoy school – and our work to date has borne this out. We believe that NJU is growing the ethical entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
Why We’re Taking This Approach
Awareness of ethical and fair trade still hasn’t 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, along with our two decades worth of working to put poverty eradication before profit.
Feedback from our NJU participants bears this out – those who have already attended business or social enterprise courses previously tell us that NJU is unique and has given them an education and awareness that they haven’t been able to find anywhere else. Many of them still, keep in touch with us, telling us that their time with NJU was truly life-changing!
But at the LYF, we have an – unashamed – ulterior – motive; we also want to increase 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 ethical enterprise amongst these groups.
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.
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!