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Meet the young fashion designer whose new campaign is empowering entrepreneurship across the world

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When Tom Cridland received a £6,000 start-up loan from the government in 2014, the young entrepreneur was able to establish his eponymous sustainable fashion business.

At the age of 23, Cridland “had a business idea to create a brand that would be an ‘antidote’ to fast fashion”.

Two years later, he has now “managed to establish Tom Cridland as an emerging sustainable fashion brand”.

Having worked hard to convince consumers to "buy less and buy better" with his high-quality and long-lasting clothing, Cridland is now hoping to focus his efforts on supporting entrepreneurship with the introduction of the Entrepreneur’s Shirt.

The Entrepreneur’s Shirt is Tom Cridland’s first buttoned shirt, and it has the brand’s signature 30-year guarantee.

The campaign is partnered with charities DEKI and Young Enterprise, with 10% of sales of the shirt going towards these charities.

“DEKI and Young Enterprise are both wonderful charities,” Cridland says. “It is an absolute honour to be collaborating with them on this”.

DEKI believe in giving “ a hand up, not a hand out”. They focus on microfinance and, through the charity, micro-loans and training are provided to entrepreneurs in developing countries to help them to earn money and successfully work their way out of poverty.

With 5% of sales of the Entrepreneur’s Shirt going directly to DEKI, the charity will be offering micro-grants rather than micro-loans to entrepreneurs in Africa. The recipients of the micro-grants will not be required to pay anything back for the received financial support.

Following the donations to DEKI from sales of the Entrepreneur’s Shirt, Cridland says that “what is most rewarding is that we’ll be able to hear of each success story on an individual basis once we’ve made our donation following the campaign.”

DEKI

In August 2016, Young Enterprise found that around 843,000 people aged between 16-24 in Britain were not in education, employment or training (NEET). Working with young people aged four to 25, Young Enterprise deliver programmes and workshops aimed at improving entrepreneurial and business-related skills to help students bridge the gap between school and work.

Cridland says that he “wholeheartedly agreed with Young Enterprise’s belief that each young person should leave education having developed skills and experience in communication, team working, problem solving, creativity and resilience”.

“Today’s young people are facing an uncertain future”, Cridland says. “Each year Young Enterprise empowers over 200,000 under 25s to realise their potential, but there are hundreds of thousands more who need their help".

Cridland describes his experiences of entrepreneurship as “life transforming”, but tells me that they have “made very clear to me how insufficient the support is for aspiring young entrepreneurs both in Britain and the rest of the world, particularly in countries in Africa, such as the areas in which DEKI carries out its invaluable work”.

He considers, “if we’re going to spend hours learning history or geography, playing sports or trying to make wooden pen holders in DT, we must surely be able to spare an hour or two a week from primary school all the way to university level learning the basics of business and entrepreneurship”.

Cridland says that “making beautiful clothing for the Tom Cridland brand is a labour of love for me and I would not change a thing”.

However, he recognises that for a lot of young people, entrepreneurship has not been as encouraged or supported as it perhaps should have been and that “there are many talented people out there who have been less fortunate than me”.

Cridland hopes that “with more support and knowledge of the mechanics of business, people would be less daunted and it would take more to make them give up”.

In the hopes of furthering his work to improve the support of young entrepreneurship in Britain, Cridland has also contacted the Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening.

He tells me, “I believe, particularly in the wake of Brexit, Justine Greening should do more to increase entrepreneurial focus in our education system and I have written to her asking to meet.”

The Entrepreneur's Shirt campaign supports an important social cause, using sustainable fashion to highlight and address the current insufficiency of support for young entrepreneurs around the world.

To find out more about the Entrepreneur’s Shirt and contribute to the campaign, visit the Indiegogo fundraising page here.

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