The Future Leaders programme 2020

Improving the odds for young entrepreneurs post covid-19

One of the most challenging consequences of the covid-19 pandemic is the interruption it poses to the lives of young people – at school, at university, and as they enter the job market. With the future highly uncertain, those now looking to start their careers face a much broader set of challenges than before.

At Foundry4, we see the provision of opportunities for young people as a high priority. Now more than ever, we want to ensure that anyone – regardless of race, gender or background – has the chance to thrive in business. The Future Leaders programme, in partnership with The Panoply and h Foundation, is one step in this direction.

An unequal start

It’s no secret that the business world has a diversity problem. Women, ethnic minorities, those with disabilities and people from deprived socio-economic backgrounds face significant challenges in the workplace. The statistics are worrying. The World Economic Forum estimates that at current rates, gender parity won’t be achieved in the economy for 257 years. Shockingly, only 34 per cent of seats on boards in the Fortune 500 were held by women or minorities in 2018, and FTSE 100 CEOs were more likely to be named Steve or Stephen in 2018 than they were to be female.

One of the best ways to tackle these issues is by developing diverse talent pipelines, inspiring entrepreneurs from a young age. However, in the context of the global pandemic and the economic slowdown it heralds, the situation has become more difficult.
The Resolution Foundation, a thinktank, identifies young people under the age of 25 as being at particular risk of unemployment over the next few years. In a recession, non-graduates can expect to find it more difficult to enter the job market, whilst graduates are likely to receive lower pay and less favourable occupation levels than before.

A helping hand

We can’t claim to be able to solve these problems. But we can make a difference, by supporting diverse young entrepreneurial talent through our Future Leaders Programme.

This 3 month scheme will run online from 20th July – 18th September 2020, offering a cohort of underrepresented leaders in the digital industry benefits including financial support, 1:1 mentorship from industry experts and the chance to pitch to investors.
Foundry4 Head of Marketing and, Rob Prevett, comments:

“We’re really excited to be running the Future Leaders Programme again this year. It’s more important than ever for businesses to step up to the plate and commit to addressing diversity issues. Not only is this the right thing to do, but if we want to be successful in the long term, we need to make sure our businesses reflect the makeup of society. Diverse teams are more innovative, more resilient, and more likely to attract the next generation of talent.”

“Last year, we were able to support 5 talented young leaders with their businesses. At the end of the programme they reported an impressive increase in confidence in both their business ideas and their own skills as entrepreneurs. We’re looking forward to seeing what our 2020 cohort will achieve this year.”

Help us spread the word

The Future Leaders Programme invites applications from underrepresented young business leaders in the Digital Industry aged 21-30, who are based in the UK.

Along with the potential to be a future leader, they must have a digital business (product or service) that they have already begun to sell, and must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • BAME
  • Low income background (eligible for free school meals)
  • Individuals with disabilities

We want to make sure that this scheme reaches as many young business people as possible, so please share this article with your network and help us spread the word.


Sarah final 3
Sarah Finch
Research and Insights Manager

Sarah is renowned for her ability to communicate complex concepts with clarity. She plays a central role in managing the insights programme at Foundry4.

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