Business, News | Rhys Williams | Published: 11:50, Friday April 17th, 2020.
Last updated: 11:50, Friday April 17th, 2020
An after-work programme to support people in rural communities start their own business has helped launch 39 new firms in its first year.
In 12 months, The 5 to 9 Club visited Merthyr, Ebbw Vale, Pontypridd, Caerphilly, Treorchy and Aberdare where it supported 98 people, with almost half of those going on to found a business and start trading.
The 5 to 9 Club is part of Caerphilly-based business centre Welsh ICE’s outreach programme to help foster new businesses.
It aims to support individuals with an idea and help them turn it into a fully-fledged business.
The workshops are held once a week from 5pm to 9pm, to allow those who work full-time to gain the experience and support needed to grow a business idea without taking the risk of giving up full-time employment.
Outreach Engagement Manager at Welsh ICE, Lesley Williams said: “Many people that joined the programme came with nothing more than an idea or simply a desire to work for themselves, so to see so many of them launch, or be in the final stages of launching, proves the necessity of a programme that reaches out to the more rural, valleys communities.”
The eight-week course is open to anyone and features a series of workshops where attendees can develop their idea into a business plan right through to launching and even seeking investment.
Each week is hosted by a different expert who guides participants through aspects of starting a business, culminating in a pitch night, where participants present their ideas to their fellow founders, talking through their business plan and their next steps.
One of the founders that launched her business through the 5 to 9 Club is illustrator Jen Harding, from Danger Doodles.
Since launching in July, the business has sold greetings cards, calendars and commissions from around the world.
Jen, who joined the programme in March, with nothing more than the idea that she wanted to work for herself, said the programme helped her turn her hobby into a business: “The 5 to 9 Club was fantastic and has had a huge impact on my life.
“Before joining the programme I was really struggling.
“I knew I wanted to explore using my creativity to carve out a career, but I just didn’t have the experience or the confidence to do so.”
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