Icecream seller licks the jobless queue

A university graduate spent a year on the couch listening to the deafening silence of the job market before setting up as an icecream seller on Auckland's Queen St.

Curtis Papple, 26, is one of the growing number of young Kiwi entrepreneurs whose willingness to make a go of anything caught the attention of Pride & Joy - a company that acts as a launching pad for unemployed youth.

When Papple graduated from Palmerston North's Massey University in 2012 with a degree in sports and exercise science he said the job market was frosty.

"I thought I was more than qualified for the jobs I was applying for and still you just don't get any replies. There's too many people looking for work and there aren't enough jobs," he said.

So when Papple and his business partner Tim Alston heard about Pride & Joy, they applied, passed the screening process and made a hasty move to Auckland last month.

"We moved up on short notice, but it was definitely worth it. I feel like I've done a two-year business course in a month. It's all good to read about things and do text books but at the end of the day you can't beat the real thing," he said.

The opportunity to dive head-first into "the real thing" was set up by businessmen James Coddington and Tony Balfour who wanted to address youth unemployment around the world by starting them off with their own business.

Papple and Alston make a profit by selling the icecream produced by Ross McCallum, who founded Kapiti icecream before selling to Fonterra.

"Nothing's really been done about youth unemployment and we thought it would be cool to create a brand that reflects the values of youth and at the same time deliver to their wants and needs as well," said Coddington.

Pride & Joy buy shiny pods, equipped with freezers, at cost and on-sell them to the young entrepreneurs for $30,000. That money is often accessible through a pre-approved loan if the "podsters" pass the screening process.

If the entrepreneurs decide to leave Pride & Joy to pursue their own ventures, the company gives back their money less depreciation.

"It's about ensuring that these guys are learning, operating and being successful in business. When they're ready, they give the business back to us and we put someone else in that opportunity," said Coddington.

There are currently four "pods" operating in Auckland, with plans to have at least 15 pods operating across the country.

Sunday Star Times