Harper moves last Green motion before standing down

For immediate release 20 January 2010

During the Scottish Greens' last Chamber Business before dissolution, Robin Harper MSP today moved his final motion for Parliament to consider, urging Holyrood to support a £2m programme of microcredit loans for young people. This project, which would help young people to start their own businesses, is inspired by the work of the Grameen Bank, originally in Bangladesh but now also in the United States of America and elsewhere.

Robin Harper MSP said:

"Too many of Scotland's young people still live in the toughest of circumstances, and tackling these problems has been a consistent theme of my work in Parliament since 1999. While devolution has seen some progress for our young people, the next Parliament can do so much more.

"We believe a £2m fund, with half the money coming from Scottish Government funds and half as matched funding from business would provide a start for a Scottish Youth Microcredit Scheme for sixteen- to nineteen-year-olds. The experience of the Grameen Bank suggests that micro-credit schemes of this sort have a very low default rate, so the fund would quickly become largely self-financing, and could subsequently be expanded to support older participants.

"And we wouldn’t be starting from scratch. Scotland has a long, and proud history of entrepreneurial achievement. We also have inspirational figures, many from the world of business, who have shown a real shown commitment to help the younger generation, and projects such as those from the Princes Trust and Inspiring Scotland have shown that it can be done.

"I hope MSPs from all parties will back this proposal tonight, and that, irrespective of party, the next Scottish Government will make this idea a reality as soon as possible."

The motion in Robin Harper's name reads as follows:

Opportunities for Young People: That the Scottish Parliament commends the work of Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus in founding the Grameen Bank in 1976, which provides micro-finance for people living in poverty in Bangladesh; recognises that, since its beginnings in Bangladesh, there are now Grameen-type programmes tackling poverty across thirty-eight countries the world and that Grameen America is now branching out to many new locations in New York, Nebraska, Washington and California; believes there is an opportunity to tackle the growing problem of unemployment among 16 to 19 year olds with the establishment of a microcredit scheme for young people in Scotland; notes that this scheme would offer loans for small business ventures to young people who are not in education, employment or training and be supported by an entrepreneurial mentoring scheme; further believes that such a scheme would build on the contribution made by Scotland’s social enterprise sector and draw upon Scotland’s long history of entrepreneurial achievement, and calls upon the Scottish Government to explore ways to establish a Scottish Youth Microcredit scheme.