An innovative training and skills development employability programme will enable hundreds of young Londoners from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds to become social entrepreneurs.  The programme titled “Skill Up – Skills for Young Social Entrepreneurs will facilitate learning building on the principles of gamification, peer-engagement and peer mentoring promoting creating thinking and innovation for social good.

“Skill Up” is one of the seven projects funded in London by NatWest’s Skills & Opportunities Fund and was shortlisted from 600 project submitted in England and Wales. Our final selection was confirmed following public vote after receiving thousands of votes in the region of London. The project will officially start in October 2017.

Dr Theo Gavrielides, Founder and Director of the IARS International Institute, said: “The unstable political, economic and social environments have hit young people the hardest. As we look positively into the future, this timely project supported by NatWest will challenge stale thinking while directly empowering some of the most neglected youth to pursue their entrepreneurial skills. It is not often that we see this trust in youth-led project ideas, and for this we are grateful to the Skills & Opportunities Fund.”

Young Londoners will also benefit by a vibrant Social Entrepreneurs Hub, based in Southwark that will bring together aspiring young entrepreneurs with established entrepreneurs and their businesses to inspire them to pursue and achieve their goals.

Phil Northey, Chair of NatWest’s London Regional Board, said: “Supporting London’s not-for-profit community organisations is a crucial part of our commitment to making a real, long term difference for the capital’s disadvantaged communities. It’s a real privilege for all of us at NatWest to be able to support such a diverse, innovative and inspirational group of projects through the Skills & Opportunities Fund.

NatWest Skills & Opportunities Fund was set up in 2015 to create opportunities for people in disadvantaged communities to gain qualifications, find work or start a business. Since then, over £3.9m has been distributed to good causes in England & Wales through the Fund.



IARS is currently recruiting for a Project Coordinator (Youth). Follow this link for more infomation.

Notes to Editors

Download NatWest’s press release announcing the winning projects here.

About the Skills & Opportunities Fund

The NatWest Skills & Opportunities Fund has already shared over £3.9m in four rounds of funding since it launched in 2015, providing grants of up to £35k to not-for-profit organisations across England and Wales that help people achieve qualifications, find work or start a business. This year, the Fund is concentrating specifically on supporting organisations with projects encouraging financial capability and entrepreneurialism. The Fund is expected to reach many more people by the end of 2017, helping to build better lives and stronger communities. The Fund is just one part of NatWest’s wider Community Programme, covering everything from their partnership with The Prince’s Trust (encouraging entrepreneurialism) to MoneySense (helping young people with their financial education).

Key dates: The next round will launch in September 2017. To keep up to date with all NatWest Skills & Opportunities Fund news, register your details here:

For more information: Eligibility criteria, information on shortlisted projects and background information on the Fund are all on

About NatWest

NatWest serves customers in England and Wales, supporting them with their personal, private, and business banking needs. NatWest helps customers at all stages in their lives, from opening student accounts, to buying their first home, setting up a business, and saving for retirement. Alongside a wide range of banking services, NatWest offers businesses specialist sector knowledge in areas such as commercial real estate, manufacturing and technology, as well as access to specialist entrepreneurial support. NatWest has been running MoneySense, an impartial financial education programme for 5–18 year-olds, for more than 21 years. By the end of 2018, NatWest will help another 1 million young people to understand and take control of their finances.