Our ‘Not Just A’ is a model that we have created and which gives young people and communities the opportunity to create their own social enterprise groups, learn business skills and earn some money, usually for a cause they are interested in.
But these are not just your ‘usual’ social enterprises. These are ETHICAL enterprises that often engage directly in ethical trade supporting small producers in developing countries – contributing to strengthening their business skills too – 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 NJA 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.
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 Big Lottery Funded NJA programme recently came to an end and we were thrilled to see some fantastic results! Find out more here.
Building the Programme into the Future
We are now working on an Open Source approach to our NJA programme, making it freely available to any community or youth group that wants to use it.