“I am enormously proud that we have been able to contribute in some way towards helping to turn people’s lives around, provide opportunity, hope and fulfilment, not only in the United Kingdom, but around the world,” he said in a statement to The Sunday Telegraph.
The Prince’s Trust is one of his longest-running charities, founded in 1976. It has helped 80,000 young people to start up in business in the UK over the past three decades.
“One of the chief reasons I have been trying to help young people start their own enterprises over the past 30 years is to combat the scourge of youth unemployment and alienation, through encouraging self-employment,” the Prince explained. “This is particularly crucial bearing in mind that in many parts of the world, 60pc of the population is under 25.”
One of the young entrepreneurs who has benefited from the scheme is Emma Reilly, founder of Newcastle-based ethical clothing brand Brave & The Bold. “I had an extreme social phobia,” she explained. “I tried to get jobs but I just couldn’t fit in.”
In 2009, Ms Reilly received a loan of £1,500 from The Prince’s Trust to start her business and was enrolled on its Enterprise Programme. This year, her business received £365,000 of angel investment to fund future growth.
Aid from the Prince’s charities stretches far beyond the UK. Youth Business International (YBI) has helped entrepreneurs to establish more than 21,000 businesses across 37 countries. There is also a stand-alone charity to help older entrepreneurs, The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise.
Prince Charles said he was “proud” of his organisations’ achievements: “After 30 years, it is particularly rewarding to find how many of my Prince’s Trust entrepreneurs have built extremely successful and productive businesses. We are now even beginning to see the children of some of these entrepreneurs starting their own enterprises with the help of my trust.
“It is important to recognise that SMEs form the bedrock of any sustainable economy and certainly of any local economy. This is often forgotten.
“It is not always realised just how difficult it is for people with no collateral to start a business. So my charities have often acted as a lender of last resort, at a low rate of interest and with that all-important element of mentoring and advice from volunteer business advisers.
“Such advice in the first two or three years is absolutely vital, and so I am hugely grateful to an army of some 7,000 volunteers, without whom we would be unable to achieve the necessary sustainable enterprises.”
He revealed that when he started the organic business, Duchy Originals, in 1992, many people believed it was destined to fail. “Its birthday is being celebrated this week,” the Prince said. “I suppose the journey of this brand is a good illustration of why it is worthwhile to stick with an idea you believe in.
“No one wanted to know about organic food all those years ago, so it was one of the very first such enterprises of its kind and a huge challenge to develop an organic supply chain from scratch.
“When we launched the first product – an oaten biscuit – the headlines in tabloid newspapers said ‘A Shop-Soiled Royal’.
“Now the business is worth £72m and has raised more than £11m for my Charitable Foundation – a grant-giving charity – and for my Countryside Fund, which supports Britain’s hard-pressed rural communities.”
It is not just young entrepreneurs that benefit. Rod Boyes was made redundant after developing educational software for 25 years. “I felt like I was on the scrap heap,” he said.
But through The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise, he started Pinegrove Leather, producing hand-crafted leather goods. The Prince is a keen supporter of UK social enterprise through his charity, Business in the Community. Cecilia Crossley founded the organic babywear retailer, From Babies With Love, which donates 100pc of its profits to orphaned and abandoned babies in Africa, India and Brazil. With the assistance of Youth Business International, Karma Yonten became Bhutan’s first citizen to turn waste management and recycling into a business. Today, his start-up Greener Way manages more than 1,000 tons of