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In 1982, The Rt. Hon. Bernard Weatherill M.P., the then Member of Parliament for Croydon North-East, had the innovative idea to start an Enterprise agency in Croydon. After consulting with leading members of the Croydon business community and Croydon Council, in 1983 Croydon Business Venture Limited (“CBV”) was formed to help individuals start their own businesses.

Small businesses have always encountered numerous issues and The Rt. Hon Bernard Weatherill M.P. knew this. He also recognised that there was extraordinarily little help available to guide and mentor start-ups and small business owners.

After some discussions, he was therefore joined by six local business and professional people as Directors, including Sir Rupert Nicholson to chair the board, Peter Meader FCA as Treasurer, Tony Pelling (Under Secretary for Transport) and Geoffrey Dove (Chairman of The Dove Group PLC) and several senior bankers. The Directors quickly set out to obtain funding which came from the generosity of the professional and business community and Croydon Council.

The reputation of the Agency grew rapidly. Clients immediately realised that they were getting free and impartial advice, from an independent company that had no direct links with other organisations.

Lord Weatherill, 25 November 1920 – 6 May 2007

Therefore, Croydon Council made available a vacant residential property in Barclay Road at no cost for the agency. Barclays Bank and Coopers and Lybrand each seconded a member of staff but continued to pay their salaries. In the following years other banks and accountancy firms seconded their staff at no cost to CBV.

After several years, the premises in Barclay Road became too small, especially for in-house seminars. With the generous co-operation of the Croydon Chamber of Commerce, meetings, seminars, and exhibitions were held at the Chambers’ premises in Scarbrook Road. Over the years CBV has moved several times to fix the space issues due to the agency’s continued expansion.

In 1988, CBV moved to Acorn House, which was opened by CBV’s Patron, Bernard Weatherill. Subsequently, in September 2008 following discussions and financial support from Croydon Enterprise, CBV opened a new Enterprise Opportunity floor at Park House, 22 Park Street, Croydon. Acorn House was named after the book written by Bernard Weatherill specifically for small business names from Acorns to Oaks.

With the agency’s ongoing expansion plans, in 2003 initial meetings commenced with Barratt Homes and Croydon Council utilising a Section 106 agreement. Planning obligations under Section 106, commonly known as s106 agreements, are a mechanism which make a development proposal acceptable in planning terms, that would not otherwise be acceptable.

In 2005 the s106 agreement was entered into whereby part of the development, meant that Barratts Homes would have to build the shell of the building for CBV at no cost, with the condition that the agency had to completely fit it out. The proposals were agreed for the building of a New Enterprise Centre with the opportunity to create over 160 jobs.

A whole decade passed from initial conversations when  CBV opened the Weatherill House facility in July 2013, providing 21st century business facilities, including conference / training and meeting rooms.

The Weatherill House location is ideal for tenants and visitors using personal and public transport. Adjacent to Wandle Park, the centre is only 5 minutes tram ride from East Croydon Station and a short walk from the centre of Croydon.

After three decades of impact and in 2011 we finally decided to apply for charity status and were recognised for our many years of impact on local people. In 2012 we were recognised as a charity which has enabled us to diversify our funding stream, including funding from companies, livery companies, foundations, and much more, to fund our charitable objectives.

Croydon Business Venture Limited has always supported all start-ups and small businesses, throughout training programmes on how to become a successful business. It also provides a fabulous networking system that connects several successful entrepreneurs, allowing an exchange of ideas, that is crucial in this sector. Expansions are always in the plans and soon we hope we will be able to help more and more people realise their dreams.

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