It is estimated that there are more than 100 million carers in Europe today. This accounts for about one fifth of the entire European population. Many of them young people, forced into this role by circumstance. Young girls make up a large number of this population. According to the Erasmus KA2 (Youth) funded Care to Work project and EUROCARERS’ statistics, young carers are faced with additional barriers to education, training and employment.
Evidence also suggests that early in life young carers develop a number of soft skills and competencies that with the right support can lead them into the development of their own social businesses and entrepreneurship activities.
Promoting entrepreneurship constitutes an important part of the Lisbon agenda and the Europe 2020 strategy which treats entrepreneurship as a key component of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Entrepreneurship is perceived by policy-makers as a means of tackling labour market disadvantage and social exclusion more generally (De Clerq and Honig 2011).
We also know that the economic savings that these young people make to their governments through their informal caring role is considerable. In fact, in Europe, the value of unpaid informal care in the community and at home is estimated from 50-90% of the overall cost of formal care provision.
Many studies have recognised the role of entrepreneurship in helping disadvantaged people in society break away from their impoverished positions (Letts 2004), serving as a potential device for poverty alleviation (Bornstein 2004), a solution to unemployment or discrimination in the labour market (Fairlie 2005) or a tool for the social inclusion of minority groups (Pavey 2006). More than 100 million of informal carers exist in Europe today.
Just in the UK, there over 1.5 million carers below the age of 35, in Italy, 170,000 and in Belgium, almost 10% of the population aged 15 and over, are informal carers (Sesa, 2006). There are no official statistics for Greece and Romania but according to a cross-Balkan study, due to the harsh living conditions and prevailing traditions valuing family links and mutual aid, young carers are a common phenomenon (Linotte, 2017).
The economic savings that these young people make to their governments through their informal caring role is considerable. In Europe, the value of unpaid informal care is estimated from 50-90% of the overall cost of formal care provision.