BRITISH SMALL BUSINESS DIRECTORS AND ENTREPRENEURS FLEE BRITAIN ON ‘ENTERPRISE GAP YEARS’
Recession-worn British small business directors and entrepreneurs are increasingly abandoning Britain to join ‘Enterprise gap year’ schemes in developing countries.
More than half of the 60% increase in older volunteers leaving on gap-years in developing countries are British small business directors and entrepreneurs, according to Projects Abroad, the world’s leading commercial volunteer service organisation. Over 500,000 small businesses having ceased trading since the credit crunch began with over 50 businesses per day collapsing, leading to the increased interest in gap year programmes.
The other half of the jump in older volunteers are redundant professionals using their final pay-cheques from the finance, telecommunications or media sectors to fund their trips. The overall increase in volunteers, including school leavers, is 11% year-on-year.
Instead of traditional ‘straight aid’ volunteering, entrepreneurs and small business directors are largely opting for ‘Enterprise’ slanted gap years. The volunteering industry for some time has been moving away from ‘straight aid’ schemes towards ‘Constructive’ volunteering. “Enterprise volunteering is the evolution of that general trend,” according to Dr. Slowe. Others are choosing Conservation and Environment projects, Human Rights, Law and even English as a Second Language. These projects are being assisted by practical on-the-ground support by British businesspeople in terms of marketing, seed finance, accounting and distribution.
Projects Abroad recently launched Enterprise to further encourage entrepreneurs to take up ‘Enterprise gap years’ as an option whether that be through Projects Abroad, other commercial operators of charitable organisations such as the Volunteer Service Abroad. Entrepreneurs such as Dragon’s Den star James Caan launched Projects Abroad’s enterprise scheme in Pakistan in March 2008. Nick Wheeler, Founder of Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts is a judge of the Enterprise competition, and Make Your Mark Organisation Chairman Peter Jones is a supporter.
Dr. Slowe is an Economic Geographer with a PhD from Oxford University, author of ‘Geography and Political Power’. He was the Chairman of the Labour Finance Industry Group when Tony Blair and Gordon Brown first came to power. He founded Projects Abroad in 1991. It has since become the world’s leading commercial volunteer service abroad organisation with recruitment offices in 13 countries, including Japan, Denmark and Israel, and projects in 33 countries worldwide.
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