Date: 20 Oct 2008
With the £70,000 funding they were given by the charity, Enterprise Enfield was able to develop and deliver the ‘Inspiring Women Programme’ – a scheme specifically designed to holistically support the development of women to start their own businesses or return to the workplace. So far this has enabled 8 women to start their own businesses and a further 6 women are in the process of setting up. Plus 1 woman has returned to work.
The criteria for women to join the programme included showing enthusiasm and commitment and living in or wishing to start a business in the north London borough of Enfield.
On 10th July all the beneficiaries of the scheme attended a celebratory lunch at the West Lodge Park Hotel in Hadley Wood, to mark their successful completion of the 6 month Programme. They were presented with certificates by the Chairman of the Trust, Gary Walker who remarked:-
‘When we had the idea for this programme we were determined to make a difference and help a group of women achieve their entrepreneurial goal. Meeting them today at this event has demonstrated that Enterprise Enfield has delivered an outstanding programme and the women have more than exceeded our hopes and expectations.’
The atmosphere at the event was one of renewal and confidence and the attendees spoke of the positive change in their lives which had happened throughout this year. Tara Grant, who recently started her own business services venture, gave a moving speech thanking the RSA and Enterprise Enfield for empowering her to take her life forward:-
‘I couldn’t have stood up at this lunch today if it hadn’t been for the confidence this programme has given me. All the sessions have been valuable but the network of support that has been created is a real bonus for this programme.’
The 20 who joined the ‘Inspiring Women Programme’ became part of an innovative 6 month course which gave them all the technical training and personal skills needed to develop a business idea and put it into practice. Considerable research was conducted by Enterprise Enfield before the programme began. The Programme Manager, Ann-Marie Sheridan, visited other schemes around England to learn from their experience. She was told that women-focused programmes that had been funded from Europe were usually highly constrained in how they could run the programmes. They were restricted by targets and form-filling. It was thought that the freedom allowed by RSA to tailor the programme to the specific needs of the women involved was a great benefit of the RSA scheme, as it allowed for a flexible and holistic approach to each of the women’s development.
Two weekends away at country retreats were part of the programme. The RSA provided funding to assist any childcare costs so that all the women were free to take time out from their lives to attend. At one of the residential weekends delegates were treated to a presentation on communication skills and a Colour Me Beautiful specialist also gave them tips on enhancing their personal image.
The RSA Trust and Enterprise Enfield are continuing to provide financial and mentoring support to the women who have now completed the Programme. The RSA Trust has ALSO allocated grants to some of the women to help with various start-up costs, such as the purchase of computers, stock, printing and website development. For example couturier Cheryl Calliste, has been able to occupy two new studio premises and buy machinery for her recently hired assistant to use. Similarly, Paula Martin was able to take accounting exams to add status to her bookkeeping business and is also receiving funding to purchase a laptop and accessories.
Thanks to the RSA Trust’s additional funding to Enterprise Enfield 13 women will now be receiving a further 6 months mentoring to continue the growth of their new businesses and ensure their success.