A life-changing trip to Ghana that turned into a life-changing job: that’s what 25-year-old Adam Pertshire had in mind when he stepped off the plane in Cape Coast in September 2013. He had been offered a full scholarship to study business at the University of Cape Coast. But he had other plans. When he found out the tuition fees for the university were almost £20,000 per year, he decided to do something about it. He decided to start his own business, which would provide employment opportunities for local people – especially young people. He came back to the UK and set up Blue Ventures, which provides support services for small businesses.
It was during his gap year in between his A-levels that Adam realised the importance of giving something back to the community that helped him so much. He decided to take a year out and travel a bit before eventually deciding where to pursue his studies. The opportunity to go to Ghana came about thanks to a combination of serendipity and determination. He had applied for a teaching job in Zambia but hadn’t heard back. Then he saw a post on the British Council’s Education for Global Change website about an opportunity to apply for a teaching scholarship to the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. He decided to take the plunge and apply. The fact that he is a charity student means that he has to fundraise for his living costs, which in the end, makes a difference to the community that he works with.
The amount of money that you need to start a business varies from £500 to £1,000, depending on what business you are setting up. You need money to buy equipment, like a desktop computer, and you’ll also need some to cover the cost of initial overheads like rent and bills. The initial costs are relatively low, but it is essential to have a back-up plan in case things don’t go according to plan. What is surprising is just how much some of this equipment costs. For example, the cost of a decent laptop computer is around £700. It’s not like technology has declined in terms of price in the last few years, it’s just that the price differential has increased.
Adam set up Blue Ventures in order to provide support services for small businesses. It started out small, with just two employees, and now has a staff of six. The business provides one-to-one business coaching, design and development services, marketing and communications, and IT support. It also offers group training sessions and workshops on areas such as financial literacy, marketing and communication. The whole point of Blue Ventures is to provide an additional service to businesses that doesn’t require additional staff. Through offering these business support services, Adam hopes to reduce the costs that businesses grapple with. For example, a business coach might charge £40 an hour, but if you can get that same service for free from Blue Ventures, why would you pay?
A Year of Living Costs
Giving something back to the community will always be a top priority for Adam. He is paying for his travel, accommodation and lifestyle with his own money. Despite this, he managed to raise £12,600 for his travel costs and another £5,500 for his living costs for the year via online fundraising and various gigs.
The Impact of Your Charity
When you are applying for a job, where do you put your charity work? Should you mention it? How much should you put in? The short answer is: as much as you feel comfortable with. You never know how much a potential employer might appreciate it if you volunteer for a good cause. It shows that you have an extra dimension beyond your degree and work experience. It’s a way of demonstrating your personality and something that might make you stand out in the crowd. So, in terms of guidance, don’t be afraid to put your charity work in your personal statement. Just make sure that you mention it is an added value that the employer might appreciate.
If you are worried about how much to put in, then ask for help. There are plenty of charities that you could get involved with that would be happy to tell you what kind of impact your donation will have. Just make sure that you don’t go overboard and hurt your chances of getting a job. The more you put in, the more you will get back. It’s important to put your time and effort into something that you feel passionate about.
Doing good deeds is an important part of being a successful business person. It shows that you care about the community and want to make a difference. In the end, it’s all about results, but it’s also about having a positive impact on your life and the lives of others.