Do you ever feel attacked by the media for being a part of a generation of self-centred narcissists who spend too much money on smashed avo and not enough on a housing deposit? Kate Rizzo, youth development officer for the Yarra council and leader of the Young Entrepreneurs in the North program, thinks this assessment of young people couldn’t be further from the truth.
Rizzo, 27, has a degree in Psychology and Social work, runs her own social enterprise and has a passion for working with what she says is one of the most misrepresented demographics: youth.
Since being developed by a colleague of Rizzo’s in conjunction with the Yarra council in 2014, Entrepreneurs in the North has since expanded to the cities of Moreland and Darebin under Rizzo’s leadership, beginning in 2015.
Rizzo said the aim of the program is to “support young people in business develop an idea,” by running weekly workshops with guest speakers, and providing mentors for participants. With 18 young people from the City of Yarra currently receiving mentorship as part of the program, Rizzo said that about 80 per cent of participants are of African heritage, and are inspired to develop many of their business ideas specifically for the African community.
Rizzo gave an example of two young Somalian women called Fatima and Huda who are creating a “safe space” for Somalian women to discuss traditionally taboo subjects like sex and relationships. The young women told Rizzo that many African women are discouraged from talking about sex and relationships among family and peers, making this project especially beneficial for these women.
Young entrepreneur Nyonno Bel-Air is a success story from last year’s intake. Bel-Air, pictured above, discovered a gap in the cosmetics market for people with tan to dark skin tones, so she used the program to help create the highly successful brand, Kleur Cosmetics, which specialises in formulating shades for skin with high levels of melanin. The brand already has a following of almost one and a half thousand on Instagram, and is definitely a space to watch.
Rizzo said that Young Entrepreneurs in the North was developed after seeing a lack of employment opportunities for youth. It has since received funding from the Yarra and Moreland council’s youth services and economic development units.
The workshops are run weekly on a Tuesday night by the Roshambo Group, who, according to their website are “founders, investors and advisors, working with … individuals, teams, departments, and businesses to efficiently and effectively deliver the critical 21st-century adaptability [to business].”
Rizzo said that the young people in the program are working to “modern models of business” rather than the old school, and are using state-of-the-art technology and strategies to make sure their businesses get off the ground in the right direction.
So, if you’re a young person who resides in the City of Yarra, Darebin or Moreland and have a great business idea, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 9426 1455 to sign up for this awesome program to kick-start your career and prove to the media and your parents that young people aren’t just self-absorbed avo-eating dreamers with no realistic goals.
Watch last year’s video by Moreland City Council to find out more:
Written by Caitlin Matticoli