What it is - A charity which aims to empower young people and enable them to overcome disadvantage by teaching them to be entrepreneurial and develop their business and life skills
What it does - NFTE has developed an entrepreneurship curriculum to teach business start-up skills, and offers training and advice to teachers
How it's funded - NFTE receives a combination of corporate, public and private support. The Vodafone UK Foundation recently committed to a three-year funding programme of £150,000
"I've never met a group of 16 year-old kids who wanted to borrow a book before, but these kids did," says Mark Monahan, a teacher at the John Kelly Technology College in Brent, North London. Monahan's pupils are staring intently at computer screens, engrossed in the process of designing business cards.
The book in question is Entrepreneurs in Profile: How 20 of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Built Their Business Empires. This is clearly not a typical course. Over the course of a year, pupils will research, plan, launch and run their own small businesses, complete with financial projections, investments and business plans.
This is a project pioneered by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, which arrived in the UK four years ago and promptly won government funding as one of seven innovative educational pilot programmes. By December 2004, 103 schools were signed up to NFTE schemes.
The Centre for Education and Industry at the University of Warwick was commissioned to evaluate NFTE's programme, and concluded that it has had a positive impact on students' 'soft' skills, such as self-esteem and motivation. There is also evidence of an improvement in key skills including teamwork and communication.
In March 2004, NFTE began discussions with the Vodafone UK Foundation over possible funding for the scheme. The grant will enable the group to continue its growth and deliver its programme to more schools over the next three years.
Raj Malhan, enterprise adviser to Haringey and Waltham Forest Education Authority, whose schools enterprise programme is delivered by NFTE, said: "One only had to look at the expressions on the students' faces to see how utterly engrossed they were with the programme. I can certainly see some budding entrepreneurs in the making."