IT professionals and technology companies and IT professionals marked a fundraising milestone, this week with a gala dinner hosted by Prince Charles at Windsor Castle.
The Prince's Trust Technology Group (TLG) has raised £5 million for The Prince’s Trust Business Programme since it was formed in May 2002.
The money raised has helped nearly two thousand young people start their own businesses and provided ongoing mentoring and support to nurture the fledgling enterprises.
The TLG gala dinner was followed by the launch of another IT industry charitable institution, Byte Night.
This year’s Byte Night, on 3 October 3, is set to raise half a million pounds for vulnerable youngsters across the county who are supported by homelessness charity NCH, with the annual London sleep out by tech industry leaders being supported by smaller sleep outs across the country.
Richard Holway, Chairman and founding member of the Technology Leadership Group said the IT industry had something unique, beyond simply fund raising to offer those in need.
The start ups backed by the Princess’ Trust have a significantly better chance of survival than other new SMEs, said Holway, and the IT industry plpays its part in this.
“Fifty-eight per cent of Prince’s Trust supported businesses are still trading into their third year, which compares favourably to the national average. This is despite the fact the young people we support have struggled at school, have been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law,” he said.
Trust-supported businesses receive low-interest loans and ongoing advice from a business mentor. “Because of this mentoring support, the success rate is high,” Holway added.
“The most important thing is for all young people to meet their potential, so we are as happy for the person we support to eventually get a full time job or go into full time education as for his or her business to “succeed”.
The charity has the support of many of the leading UK tech firms. Microsoft, Cap Gemini, Cannon and McAfee are prominent supporters, but Holway said, “We only have 50-60 member companies compared to the 1000+ medium and large tech companies operating in the UK.
“We need you,” he added.
While delighted to get direct boardroom level sponsorship and donations, the TLG is getting an increasing amount of the funding raised by the TLG comes from employee participation in fundraising challenges such as the Capgemini Wild UK Challenge .
This involves competitors hiking, bike riding and kayaking in teams across the West Country terrain to raise money for the trust.
“Employees from fifty companies including Oracle, Fujitsu and Symantec are also putting their entrepreneurial skills to the test whilst raising £1million for The Trust by taking part in the newly launched Million Makers challenge,” said Holway.
For Holway and the TLG stalwarts, it is a passion for getting young people who can’t get help elsewhere into business, that drives their involvement.
There is though, according to Holway, further value for TLG members. “We have built one of the best tech networking forums in the UK. Our events (whether the ‘free’ lunches for members or the paid for special events) are always sell-out months in advance with CEO-level representation from numerous technology companies,” he said.
Recent events have included a lunch with Sir Michael Rake (incoming Chairman of BT) and an event at the House of Commons with Yvette Cooper Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Future events include a lunch with Lord Adair Turner on the Climate agenda and the annual ICT Leaders dinner at the BT Tower in September where Richard Holway will give his renowned “State of the ICT Nation” talk.
The Prince’s Trust Business Programme needs more than £1million a month to continue its operations, and Holway wants the technology sector to step up its efforts to meet the target.
For more information on The Prince’s Trust Technology Leadership Group’s activities, events and how your business can get involved, click here.
For more information on Byte Night, click here.