As with many businesses and business support organisations, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown from 23 March 2020 has had an effect on what we do and how we operate.
Building Business Horizons
Four weeks into the delivery of our 4 month incubator programme Building Business Horizons, lockdown forced us to consider how to continue support in an uncertain environment. Eventually moving to an online delivery format through a range of video conferencing technology, mainly via Zoom, we managed to continue to deliver our workshops and masterclasses to our new cohort of startup entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs.
Specifically in this period in collaboration with delivery partners and external speakers, we have achieved:
- 4 workshops
- 4 masterclasses
- 70 1-1 mentoring sessions
- 1 virtual Open Day with guest speakers
- 9 pitching panels
- Awarded funding to 4 participants who pitched to further their business idea and social enterprise
The businesses and social enterprises awarded funding are:
- Calabash Soiree, a social enterprise based in south Norwood, providing events and services to older people in the community and using music as a key medium in social care
- MPWRD Ltd, a Management Consultancy & Life Coaching service providing workshops and 1-1 advice on managing stress, preventing burnout, promoting diversity and inclusion and retaining talent in the financial industry
- First Steps DV CIC, a social enterprise providing workshops and support to survivors of domestic violence and abuse and raising awareness and empowering businesses and colleges to support their staff
- Paper Stories, a craft based café – a space where crafting is accessible no matter your creativity, providing employment to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and where community happiness and prosperity are cultivated simultaneously
The quality, commitment and professionalism of the participants has been extremely high and every one of them have achieved something to be proud of.
“The workshop enables you to measure progress so far and look at the various parts of the business plan, spreadsheet and generally get a sense of where you are in terms of preparedness for launching your business. Staging the workshop at this point in the course was very timely as it afforded me the opportunity to assess my progress thus far and look at what else was needed to ensure that my business plan etc. was progressing at the right pace. As a result I was able to submit drafts of my work and gain valuable support to make amendments and additions well before the deadline for final submission.” BBH Spring 2020 participant
However, the impact is not limited to our participants; they extend to our panellists and trustees involved in the programme.
“Wow, what a fantastic experience it has been being a part of this year’s BBH panel – such a high standard of business plans, financial forecasts and pitches. It is very clear to me the level of effort that has gone into this programme; both by Geoff, Anna and the team and also the participants – I’m in awe of what has been achieved by all in spite of a pandemic which no one could have predicted or prepared for. It has been a real pleasure for me working with the team and hearing from all of the participants and I’d like to wish you all continued success as you move forward with your businesses.” Kerry Hector, Entrepreneur and BBH Panellist
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my part in BBH. The enthusiasm and commitment of the entrepreneurs for their projects has been infectious and I’m sure that they have all gained a lot from their experiences on the course and I’m equally confident that their chances of success in their projects has been greatly improved.”Richard Sumption, StartUp Croydon Trustee
Advice and Support
Lockdown reduced the number of face to face advice sessions we were able to deliver, forced the suspension of all monthly three day new business courses and forced the closure of Weatherill House to all licensees to ensure their and our staff’s health, safety and well-being.
We did, however, remain open to provide a limited service to our mail and messaging customers and licensees who wished to retrieve business mail.
We have been interacting with licensees to help them through the crisis where needed including helping to apply for grants.
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