Parliament backs Green plans to tackle youth unemployment

For immediate release 20 January 2010

The Scottish Parliament today unanimously backed a motion in the name of Robin Harper MSP to introduce a microfinance scheme for 16- to 19-year-olds wishing to start their own business, giving a significant boost to the campaign for the next session of Parliament to adopt this approach.

Robin Harper MSP said:

"The debate I brought today had one simple idea at its heart. If we set up an institution to lend small amounts to budding entrepreneurs, I believe Scotland's young people will jump at the chance. Too many of them are outside the worlds of education and work, but plenty of them are ready with the ideas which could become our next generation of growing businesses. We also know from experience in other countries that microcredit loans are much more likely to be paid back, meaning this fund could quickly become largely self-sustaining. This initiative would add an extra dimension to the great work already being done by the Prince's Trust and other organisations that are helping young people to start new businesses.

"Holyrood has risen to the occasion on this issue, and I am delighted to see this idea receive unanimous support from across the parties. I do hope the next Parliament follows through on this commitment, and moves quickly to set up a microcredit scheme for Scotland's young people. The whole country would see the benefits, not just those who it helped to get on in life."

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.