Ladies and Gentlemen, I can't tell you how proud it makes me this evening to see so many of you here from all around the world because apart from anything else it reminds me of all the effort that has been made for really such a very long time to try and find ways of building the possibilities for young people to try and start their own businesses. Of course Sir Malcolm Williamson and Andrew Devenport have played such a key part in ensuring that YBI has developed to the extent it has. So I particularly want to take the opportunity this evening to pay a special tribute to Sir Malcolm and Andrew because I am only as good as all the marvellous people around who can help me do these things. Perhaps you can imagine sometimes how difficult it is when you try to start something like this. I remember thirty years ago a terrible problem with youth unemployment in this country in the early 1980s.
So it was then with my Prince's Trust that we came up with the idea here of looking at self-employment and business start-up schemes. This was quite radical, as you can imagine, in those days and I had to go around this country ceaselessly trying to recruit people to help in the process of doing this. So I was endlessly finding myself addressing groups of business people and others to try and recruit support but above all to recruit advisors and mentors. I used to spend my life at gatherings of groups of people all standing there with their arms folded, looking rather defensive about the whole operation. So just getting over the hump and explaining to people and then showing them the value that can be obtained from helping people to develop their real potential and their talents and set-up a business was an interesting challenge. And you will also realise how proud it makes me, the fact that now after thirty years or more I see people who have made hugely successful businesses, many of them are millionaires, who come back as you probably realise now to help as mentors or supporters in all sort of ways particularly in other parts of the world.
As you can imagine it's a special event this conference in terms of the global entrepreneurship. I hope all of you have found today of value and I you'll find tomorrow in particular of value because there you're going to have a session with four of my charities; my Prince's Trust and also my Initiative for Mature Enterprise. Believe it or not there was a period where I was starting to get endless letters from people over 50 all complaining about the fact that they had been made redundant or de-manned or something. It was a terrible thing about twenty years so I thought maybe we could look at helping to start in business.
So that's another area in what I've been trying to do. Business in the Community has also played a very important role in all this. So the key it seems to me is how we can integrate as many of these different operations as possible to help scale-up and provide ever more opportunities for people. Sir Malcolm pointed out of course, as you know better than I, that the problems of youth unemployment in many countries of the world are huge. In particular you think just in Uganda 80 per cent of the population is now under 25 and the challenges are immense.
I also feel strongly rather like Professor Muhammad Yunus discovered with the Grameen bank in Bangladesh that actually providing the loan finance through women was enormously valuable because it empowered them but also gave them some control over the numbers of children they have. The problem I feel so often is that we have an enormous challenge in trying to deal with ever increasing numbers of people along with the impact on resources. Let alone how do we provide enough jobs or start enough businesses. You Ladies and Gentlemen are the people who can help do it. You are doing it and I admire you greatly for all the efforts you're making.
Of course we couldn’t do all this without the wonderful generousity and support of all the business sponsors. Many of whom are now becoming more and more enthusiastic about what YBI, The Prince's Trust and others can do. So I wanted to use this evening particularly to express warmest gratitude to Accenture, Barclays, BG Group, the Department for International Development and of course the Inter-American Development Bank for all the support they are now providing on a very substantial basis, for all their generous global investments to enable this entire network to function ever more effectively.
So I do hope there are more people here this evening who will have seen the point of what we’re trying to do and become even more enthusiastic about supporting it.
I also finally wanted to pay a real tribute to the young business people, I met one or two this evening who have won awards. I know that so many of them have overcome huge obstacles in their own lives and within their own communities to be able to set-up businesses in the first place. It is an extraordinary achievement for so many of these young people to do something. For instance when they went to see a bank and said they wanted to start their business the banks wouldn’t touch them. That is why I think what you can all provide through this network is of such importance because we can provide the first line of risk taking and helping people to get over that initial obstacle with advice and everything else then the banks will pay real attention to those businesses.
So what you are doing is of crucial importance for the future and for helping to reduce youth unemployment. When you think of the difficulties in Spain, Portugal, the Middle-East and Africa, there's a huge task. But I've been so encouraged this evening to meet all of you and to see what you're doing and nothing could give me greater encouragement than to witness the way in which you're meeting these challenges. I hope you feel at the end of these two days that you'll be even better equipped to meet those challenges and to make me even prouder because the future depends on all of you and all those young people who are going to ensure that they are the future business people and mentors and supporters.