Thursday 20th January was the last debate of the Green MSPs in the Chamber before dissolution, and I took the chance to debate a topic very close to my heart.
Young people have been a priority for me since long before I was an MSP, and I have used my role as a politician to try and do as much to support and encourage them as possible, making very regular visits to schools, attending events, supporting and sponsoring the Eco Schools movement and well as many other smaller projects.
That is why I wanted my last motion put to the Parliament to be about alternative opportunities for young people, which is not the academic path, nor the less fortunate path where people slip through the net and face a far bleaker future.
Inspired by the work of Muhammad Yunus, I put this motion to Parliament:
“Opportunities for Young People: That the Scottish Parliament commends the work of Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus in founding the Grameen Bank in 1976, which provides micro-finance for people living in poverty in Bangladesh; recognises that, since its beginnings in Bangladesh, there are now Grameen-type programmes tackling poverty across thirty-eight countries the world and that Grameen America is now branching out to many new locations in New York, Nebraska, Washington and California; believes there is an opportunity to tackle the growing problem of unemployment among 16 to 19 year olds with the establishment of a microcredit scheme for young people in Scotland; notes that this scheme would offer loans for small business ventures to young people who are not in education, employment or training and be supported by an entrepreneurial mentoring scheme; further believes that such a scheme would build on the contribution made by Scotland’s social enterprise sector and draw upon Scotland’s long history of entrepreneurial achievement, and calls upon the Scottish Government to explore ways to establish a Scottish Youth Microcredit scheme.”