Scheme helps over-fifties into self-employment

With high unemployment among the over-fifties, the Prince’s Trust Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) is helping people in this age group to start their own businesses

Although job prospects can be bleak for the over-fifties, the record of middle-aged entrepreneurs is encouraging. Barclays Bank reports that a quarter of its new business comes from people over the age of 50.

PRIME supports mature entrepreneurs with workshops, mentoring programmes and networking opportunities. A dog-grooming business, a wedding caterer and a microlight flying school are among businesses launched with the help of the scheme, which are now thriving.

Tim Hulse, 51, from Cheshire was made redundant from his job in the computer software sector after 15 years. Hulse attended PRIME’s Preparing to Run your own Business course and now has his own company, EcoVert Solutions, providing green refurbishments for older properties. “The training on the course really pushed us to be self-directed. I’m still in touch with my course group which is good for support,” said Hulse.

Another beneficiary of the scheme is Heavna Bayne, 60, from London, a former product manager for City & Guilds, who was made redundant in 2010. Having worked in an office environment all her life, Bayne decided to pursue a career in something creative and set up Heavna Bee, a Caribbean food business.

Her advice to any other over-fifties considering becoming self-employed is: “You have the knowledge, experience and skill to do it. Draw up your plan, take advice, have faith in yourself, set your target start date and stick to it.”

Bayne added: “Although being self-employed is a lot of hard work, you get an incredible amount of satisfaction from being your own boss and most importantly, doing something you really enjoy and are passionate about.”

A survey by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) found that 48% of over 50s who set up their own businesses were likely to succeed after 5 years, compared with only 29% of those started by people aged 18-49 years.