Helping more than 200 entrepreneurs of the future!
The economic affects have hindered many people this past year, with job and career opportunities taken away from ambitious, would-be entrepreneurs who have less access to funding than ever.
Conscious of the impact of this, in September 2020, the PFP Community Investment Fund teamed up with The Guinness Partnership, helped almost 300 entrepreneurs via a new initiative - Pop Up Business Ltd.
Across its operations, Places for People offers a wide range of support to help improve its customers’ lives – this time focusing on aspiring entrepreneurs. Via Pop Up Business it could help customers who were keen to start up their own businesses but for numerous reasons – often circumstance or lack of funding – couldn’t realise their ambitions.
In its first guise, Pop Up Business was established with the help of an initial £7,500 investment by PFP’s Community Investment Fund and The Guinness Partnership. The money helped fund a week-long course for PFP customers – allowing all to attend regardless of their experience.
Run by Pop Up Business School, the course covered a broad range of content, helping passionate people realise their ideas and establish a business. It helped customers build on a dream, showing them a range of commercial skills – from how to market their business idea, build a free website, manage tax and VAT – and ultimately set them on their journey to entrepreneurialism.
From small acorns…
With the September course so successful, PFP and The Guinness Group decided to build on the offering, investing £7,000 in a second Pop Up Business course, this time focusing on one geographical area which had been hit hard by the pandemic – Milton Keynes.
This is an area significantly affected by the pandemic; research showed that Milton Keynes had seen its unemployment claimant count rise significantly during 2020; reaching 6.3% (or 10,750 claimants) in July 2020, compared with 2.1% (or 3,500 claimants) in July 2019. It is expected that the population of the Milton Keynes metropolitan area will reach 500,000 residents by 2050, so it is essential that the future residents of Milton Keynes have access to homes, jobs and community facilities that enable them to thrive.
Against that economic context, a decision was made to run a two-week course here, one which was attended by more than 70 bright people. PFP and The Guinness Partnership also helped secure extra funding from the local authority too – allowing for enhanced sessions which would help people here get back on their feet.
Tony Hennon, Community Investment Fund Project Co-ordinator for Places for People, helped establish both courses and explained: “Our second Pop Up Business course was a great success. We’d learnt from the first UK-wide course and realised that focusing on specific areas was a better way of helping our customers – especially in an area which had been affected by the pandemic and was hindering the opportunities of so many people.
“There’s a lot of housing in Milton Keynes with a high-density population – the effects of lockdown and the pandemic as a whole resulted in many of our customers being furloughed from their jobs or were sadly made redundant. We needed to act fast to help and this was our pro-active response.”
On both courses, clear objectives were established from the outset. The course would help customers start their own business, improve in confidence, and increase their own financial stability during unprecedented times. In turn, the hope was to encourage other customers to do the same and stimulate local economies and provide access to opportunities that wouldn’t be available to customers through normal business channels. Tony continued: “We wanted to create a ripple effect, instilling confidence and positivity in more and more people. We wanted to open doors and give people contacts so that they could actually turn their ideas into something real; we empowered them and I’m so proud of what’s already been achieved.”
Brighter futures for more people
“Pop Up Business has proved you can turn a hobby into a business with no investment at all,” Tony continued. “Once established, the course participants can keep in regular contact with PopUp Business School and support, for example, applying for a business loan, is readily available when participants are ready to expand.
“The Milton Keynes project has been so successful we’re already looking to fund a course in Sheffield early next year. We’re currently in talks with the local authority and at least six other housing providers – so it’s definitely ramping up and each time we learn more.
“It’s really exciting to think that our customers can go from one day, wondering where to turn financially, to then be set up with a website and trading the next! Participants like NAME prove how accessible and fruitful attending a course like this can be, we look forward to supporting even more PFP customers and helping them achieve their dreams.”
For more information on the PopUp Business School visit: www.popupbusinessschool.co.uk.