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My enterprise journey is one I want to take more young people on

This opinion piece is over 1 year old

Karis Gill on the transformational role enterprise played in her life

It is not an understatement to say that enterprise saved me.

Severely dyslexic – I have a reading and writing age of under 10 years old – I did not fit in at primary school. I was a child with hope and aspirations just like my classmates, but I was labelled as going nowhere.

Yet, at 21 I set up my own business and I couldn’t be more excited about my future. The reason for this is that I was encouraged by my parents to show off what I was good at through enterprise. I set up my own art exhibition before I was 11 and ran a car wash company at 12. These experiences allowed me to see a career path when others couldn’t and to learn the skills that have helped my social enterprise, Social Stories Club, to thrive.

Now, as an ambassador for Young Enterprise Scotland, I have the opportunity to use my experience to help others like me. Enterprise education captures everyone and its learning-by-doing approach is truly inclusive because it brings out the unique strengths in everyone.

Enterprise education involves problem solving, communication, teamwork, innovative thinking and resilience. It can inspire young people because it proves that business people can be anyone - young people, women, individuals with disabilities, artists. It also allows the mathematician or art student who may not see themselves as entrepreneurs to understand that they can, nonetheless, be change-makers. Young Enterprise Scotland’s Company Programme demonstrates exactly this with each team member finding their groove in different roles from finance director through to sales director.

Enterprise education builds the soft skills that make young people more employable. Even the brightest university students can hit the job market without these soft skills because a university degree rewards good grades instead of problem solving, communication and teamwork.

Unlike any other lesson, enterprise education also teaches how to deal with failure. The fear of failure is the number one reason why more women don’t start businesses, so not only does getting used to failure encourage female founders, but it also prepares students for the wider world by helping them understand what failure and rejection feel like and to reframe it in their minds.

Altogether, enterprise education encapsulates a whole range of skills and interests. It creates entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, leading to more innovations and a stronger workforce which is good for the economy, and good for society.

I would have loved to have had the chance to get involved in enterprise activities at school. Through enterprise, there are limitless possibilities. It was presented to me as something exciting, fun and something to strategise. It allowed me, someone unable to engage in school in the traditional way, to bring forward my unique strengths and ultimately it gave me the most versatile of career options. Yes, enterprise saved me.

Karis Gill is co-founder of Social Stories Club (SSC). Karis set up SSC in 2018 with Aayush Goyal (pictured together, above). Last month, she became an ambassador for the enterprise education charity Young Enterprise Scotland.