Simon Hughes MP calls on corporate finance community to invest in social entrepreneurs

Simon Hughes MP calls on corporate finance community to invest in social entrepreneurs

The MP for Southwark and Bermondsey was speaking at the London offices of international accountancy firm Mazars at the  launch of the finals of Smaller Earth’s Your Big Year competition. Your Big Year is a ground breaking social entrepreneurship challenge which will see 16 finalists from 14 countries spend the next week battling for the chance to win a unique
year-long placement meeting global leaders and captains of industry, while also working on CSR projects.

Addressing the finalists Hughes said, “Its important that we help youngsters understand what opportunities are available to them. We have a culture where often most young people and many people from black and minority ethnic communities don’t get the support and investment they
need. We need to change that culture and make people realise that sometimes the best investments are investments in the next generation of leaders.

“One of the great ethical challenges of today is to end the selfish perception and culture of entrepreneurship and to grow success and then to share it. We have a real opportunity to change selfish capitalism into ethical capitalism - and improve the lot of many people in the
world as a result.”

With the finals of Your Big Year being staged in conjunction with the Global Entrepreneur Congress in Liverpool (13-15 March), the 16 finalists will travel to Liverpool on Friday (tomorrow) to undertake a series of commercial and retail tasks, which will also include pitching
into Sir Richard Branson at GEC.

Speaking ahead of the finals Chris Arnold founder of Smaller Earth and Your Big Year said, “The aim of Your Big Year is to provide inspiration and confidence to anyone with ambition. Entrepreneurism doesn’t just have to be about making lots of money and creating successful
businesses, for me entrepreneurial spirit can and should be shown through the worlds of media, politics and culture as well.

“Through Your Big Year we have created a unique programme which will hopefully inspire people to follow their dreams. Whoever wins is going to experience a life-changing year as they travel to six continents to meet captains of industry and work on a range of CSR projects. After 6
months they will then have to face the tough decision of which CSR project they have visited should receive a $50,000 donation, while they will also have the chance to dedicate 6 months of their time to working on a project of their choice.

“However Your Big Year is just the tip of the iceberg of what we want to achieve at Smaller Earth which is why we will be making a very exciting announcement next week which will have a major impact on fostering entrepreneurism around the world.”

One person who knows exactly how life changing Your Big year can be is last year’s winner Michael Theo from Malaysia who said, “Winning My Big Year has been the most incredible experience of my life. My passion is for volunteering and personal development and over the past 12 months I’ve visited 22 countries, addressed the UN, spoken before the CEO’s of
Shell, HSBC and Barclays, and spoken on panels with Ted Turner and Randi Zuckerberg.

“I passionately believe we all have a responsibility to try and make a positive impact in an ethical and sustainable way and Your Big Year is an incredible platform which will hopefully inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs around the world.”

Tony Treacy, marketing and communication director at Your Big Year sponsor Mazars, an international accountancy firm, said: “Our long history of social responsibility and our work with inspiring entrepreneurs from all walks of life across the 68 countries in which we
operate, means Your Big Year is a natural fit for Mazars. We’re very proud to be part of this great initiative and I’m very excited to travel to Liverpool next week to take a seat on the judging panel for the final stages of the competition. The 16 finalists all show great promise; I’m
sure the final decision will very tough. Mazars offices around the world, including Brazil, India, South Africa and Kenya, also look forward to welcoming the eventual winner as they visit those countries during their ‘Big Year’.”

Staged in partnership with Mazars and the Kauffman Foundation, Your Big Year has proved a global hit having attracted 66,000 applications from 221 countries.