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Encouraging young people to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs

Opening Doors Network (ODN) was launched earlier this year, aimed at supporting disadvantaged young people, aged 18-30 into self-employment. 

Participants undertake a programme of practical workshops covering areas such as financial planning, benefits of social media and the legalities of setting up a business together with the opportunity to test trade their products and services. 

Recently we held two events to promote the programme.

The first was a networking and pitching event, where several participants on the programme pitched their ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs and start-up loan funders.  

Our guest speaker Tim Campbell provided inspiring advice for the Opening Doors participants, including:

  1. Make your customers feel special so they choose you over the competition
  2. Don’t be arrogant and think you know everything there is to know
  3. Respect the advice of experienced people
  4. Know your customers REALLY well
  5. Understand profit: Lord Sugar told Tim “anyone can sell a 10 bob note for 9 bob”
  6. Essential elements of your business , the triangle: CUSTOMER + PROFIT + USP (Unique Selling Point)

(Thanks to Bright Ideas Trust for sharing these tips via twitter @Bright_Ideas)

Winner of the top prize of £250 vouchers was Jilly-Ann of Xaymaca with her sorrel based natural health drink.


Jilly-Ann (centre) with the panel members: Robin Landman, Olga Astaniotis, Amie Samba and Analyn Haswell



Our second event saw Minister for Communities Stephen Williams visit the Opening Doors Programme in North London. The visit started with trip to the local Sainsbury’s, where the Minister together with former Spurs skipper Gary Mabbutt, met ODN participants’ trialling their products and services. Read more about this visit on the Tottenham Hotpspur Foundation website.

This was followed by a drop-in to a workshop session at the Spurs stadium where start-up company Freshious spoke about the benefits of the ODN programme, which included the hands-on practical nature of the workshops; the one-to-one mentoring and support; the networking opportunities and the chance to meet and discuss ideas and issues with  like-minded people, all with the goal of starting their own business.

Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said: “Getting more young people into training and employment is by far the best way of increasing prosperity, tackling poverty and worklessness and creating a fairer society.  The Opening Doors initiative is doing tremendous work towards these goals by encouraging and coaching local young people into being tomorrow’s entrepreneurs”.

For further information about the Opening Doors programme, have a look at our website and follow us at @Openingdoorsnet. 

If you would like to speak with someone about the programme contact Programme Director Indra Pooran at or 020 7832 5839.


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