Under the Mango Tree…!

Earlier this year, I travelled from Birmingham to a remote part of Africa to work as a volunteer teacher at an Underprivileged Children’s Centre (UCC) in Ghana, to help teach literacy and numeracy. And I took the Young Enterprise ‘Our World’ programme with me…

All of the young children I taught came from a background of extreme poverty where food and clean water are everyday issues for them.

During my stay I witnessed a few power cuts, which I thought were amazing; it would be pitch black for miles around as we all waited for the TV to come back. (We were watching Ghana compete for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations!) It made me laugh to imagine the chaos that such an inconvenience would cause in Birmingham, but my comeuppance for laughing came when the water stopped for a week!

The UCC is the result of the vision of Billa Mahmud. In 1989, Billa saw the potential of a huge dumping ground, known as the Aviation Fields and began clearing the ground to create football pitches for local youngsters. (A dream shared by most of the young people I met is to own a pair of football boots!) Football is very popular in Ghana and the young people turned out at the Aviation Fields in their hundreds. And Billa began their education, with literacy and numeracy classes, underneath a mango tree! Soon Billa had to find a second, bigger, mango tree as the classes grew.


Our World

The Mango Tree

And what began under a mango tree, evolved and grew to become the UCC. The centre now acts as a school with classrooms in the yard and as an orphanage for those who need it. Billa has also set up a single mini-bus service to drive the vast bumpy routes between communities to bring those young people to school who are not busy working for their families.

Based at The Pump and inspired by working for Young Enterprise, with young people in my own community and in partnership with The Future Leaders programme, Our World took me on an enterprising journey across the globe…! Enterprise was everywhere in Africa. From the hawkers by the main city roads to the traders in the crazily chaotic ancient marketplace where I developed a taste for goat kebabs and bought gifts to bring home.


I arrived in Ghana at a time when the sand from the Sahara desert was sweeping across Africa blocking the direct rays of the sun, but the heat made it feel like I had stepped into a sauna! I visited places where women and children sleep on railway lines next to toxic waste and where children work to survive. And yet, I was inspired by their devotion to rising with the sun and their apparent, but unspoken, belief in a brighter future.

I took a camera to Ghana and, thanks to Reel Access, you can watch this footage of my African adventure and hear Billa describe how enterprise, education and volunteering can change lives and change the world. Our World.



Our World. Suki’s Adventure in Africa…!

Suki Kaur, a Young Enterprise Manager based at The Pump in Birmingham, has recently returned from her adventure in Africa…!


Enterprise Education in Africa

Suki in Africa

Inspired by working with her local community and as part of The Future Leaders programme, Suki worked at an Underprivileged Children’s Centre in Ghana and, using Our World, raised awareness of global enterprise amongst young people in Accra, including those living in extreme hardship. Suki documented her experience and, with help from Reel Access a community film & media organisation also based at The Pump, is currently editing the footage. Watch this space…!

And a big THANK YOU to Chris, Alex, Mark, Anna Marie, Nils, Lou, Dave, Theo, Will, Robert, Colleen, Pete, Martin, Sharon, Sarah, Justyn, Ginger, Gene, Bryan, Patricia, Andrew, Paul, Diane, Rebecca and Martin McNally, amongst others who kindly sponsored Suki’s African adventure…!




Vocational Skills Awards Ceremony at The Pump’s Social Enterprise Cafe

Young (Social) Enterprise (at The Pump)

The Pump Cafe is a newly established social enterprise, based on the Community Interest Company (CIC) model, founded by Young Enterprise and The Pump in the heart of East Birmingham. The Pump (East Birmingham Ltd) supports the development of young people, particularly those that experience disadvantage and exclusion, whilst Young Enterprise is building an interconnected world of young people, business volunteers  and educators; inspiring each other to succeed through enterprise. The Pump Cafe is run in partnership with The International School and Community College, a specialist Business and Community College; to provide training opportunities for young people and healthy food for their customers.

Pictured are some of the young Trainees and Apprentices who picked up their Vocational Skills and NVQ Awards at The Pump’s first Awards Ceremony; where they were congratulated by Rashida Adkins Fouracre from University College Birmingham.

The business of growing the social economy

 The Pump Cafe CIC is now a fully-fledged member of the newly launched Social Enterprise West Midlands CIC and is connected to a network of over 450 businesses and individuals that share a passion for social enterprise. Already, with support from Be Birmingham, The Pump Cafe has seen 24 trainees and 8 apprentices helping to provide somewhere for staff and young people at The Pump to relax, buy healthy food and socialise.With a Business Plan, developed by the Institute of Social Entrepreneurs, and a Marketing Plan, courtesy of DAM Creative, The Pump Cafe is set to creatively combine social goals with financial success by helping more young people to develop their skills and re-engage with learning, whilst also filling an identified niche for a healthy food provider in the area.

A Taste of Birmingham

The Pump Cafe has already been given the seal of approval by Andy, one of Birmingham’s top chefs; who took a break from his busy restaurant, Edmunds in Brindley Place, to sample The Pump Cafe for himself.

Andy was impressed by the healthy food on offer and by the Apprentices he met that day, including Kasad and Leanne (pictured).

Like Edmunds, Purnell’s is part of Birmingham’s gastronomic revival and the opportunity to work alongside such Master Chefs is an opportunity not to missed…!

Like Young Enterprise, Glynn and Andy are all about enterprise, employability and empowerment…

Start Something…

And if you also have a taste for healthy food, social enterprise and would like to help us to realise the potential and talents that exist within all young people, please visit The Pump Cafe at The Pump, 286 Kitts Green Road, Birmingham B33 9SB.