A local man is starting a business to help young people get their drivers licence and is piloting the concept in the Hunter. He is seeking support from local business people to make the business a reality.
Frank Nmezi struggled to get up enough hours of practice to get his driver’s licence. His dad and mum were both working long hours and had other children to look after. It was too expensive for his family to afford to pay for driving lessons. His younger brothers had the same issue.
The Nigerian born man, now 20, arrived in Australia eight years ago. Two other friends, Plynish Matara and Roy Kadira, had similar experiences to Frank.
Drawing on their experience, they had the idea to develop an app to connect learner drivers with driving instructors and supervisors who could provide free or low-cost driving tuition.
Frank said they found a number of young people had the same problem.
“This can lead to people fudging their hours and not having sufficient experience to be as safe drivers as they could be, which is an issue for the whole community,” Frank said.
Excited by the idea, they found an app developer but soon realised there were many other aspects to establishing their social enterprise. They were unsuccessful in attracting finance and were close to giving up on their idea when a friend suggested they contact the Hunter Futurepreneurs Program.
“We didn’t realise how much was involved in getting the business started, such as the legal and safety aspects as well as recruiting learners and instructors,” Frank said.
“When we met Cheryl Royle (Hunter Entrepreneurship Facilitator) she was very supportive and encouraging and has given us a lot of good advice.”
Cheryl told the young men about the NSW Government’s Youth Employment Innovation Challenge and helped them to apply. The Innovation Challenge was offering $10 million to fund innovative solutions and ideas that support young people to find employment in NSW, with a focus on regional areas. The challenge aims to help develop projects that investigate, design and implement better ways of helping young people aged 15-24 years old with multiple and complex barriers, to find work.
The trio, named Drive Connex, were successful in gaining entry into the program. They are one of 32 out of 77 applicants from across NSW to make it through the initial application and then pitching their Learner Driver Hack App. At the moment they are completing 12 weeks of a business incubation lab.
“Cheryl helped us with our pitch and continues to help us today,” Frank said.
Frank said having an idea is the easy part. His advice to budding entrepreneurs is to be aware that it takes a lot of effort to turn an idea into reality, but there are experts to help.
“Do whatever it takes to get your idea out there; don’t let that burning light of an idea get covered over,” Frank said.
“Do your research and talk to as many people as possible.
“Take advantage of the Hunter Futurepreneurship program or other programs.”
As part of the Innovation Challenge, Frank and his colleagues have established a pilot of the app in the Hunter. They have no shortage of learner drivers but are looking for instructors or supervisors to take part.
“Local business people can help by volunteering to supervise a young person when driving, even if for only a few hours.”
The Hunter Futurepreneurs Program is an Australian Government initiative being implemented in regions where there is high youth unemployment and low uptake of self-employment. It provides budding entrepreneurs with free advice and links to other support to develop their entrepreneurial skills or turn their idea into a successful business.
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