Free business course sees success for local entrepreneurs

Published: Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Dozens of budding entrepreneurs from Havering and East London have successfully set up new businesses and kick-started their careers after completing a free business training course.

The PopUp Business School, which runs across the UK, came to Havering in May following a grant application by joint venture partners Havering Council and Wates Residential. 

Havering Council is currently working in partnership with the national developer to deliver more than 5,000 new homes over the next 12 to 15 years in one of the capital’s biggest regeneration projects. As part of the project, the partners are investing in education, training and skills to support the commitment to deliver a borough-wide legacy. 

More than 80 local residents took part in the course, which helps make business dreams a reality through practical training, workshops and confidence building sessions. 

Now, just four months on, course attendees are already breaking ground on their business ventures with 38 per cent starting to trade during the course and 41 per cent having made their all-important first sale. The new businesses include start-ups in the real estate, craft, health and social work, food and entertainment sectors.  

Carole, from Romford, had written a children’s book shortly before beginning the course.

One lunchtime, participants were told to go and ‘do something amazing’ on their break. Carole stepped outside her comfort zone and asked to speak with the manager in the local branch of Waterstone’s about stocking her book. To her amazement, the book is now proudly displayed on the shelves and she’s stuck into writing a second instalment. 

When discussing her week on the course, Carole commented: “The PopUp Business School is the most inspirational and motivational experience that you’ll ever come across – it sparked lots of ideas and I’m thinking about turning the main character from my book into a brand.”   

As well as boosting business, the course led to huge increases in confidence and happiness. A survey of 31 participants revealed a 60 per cent increase in confidence and an 80 per cent increase in happiness after finishing the course.

There was also an 80 per cent increase in the ability and energy participants felt they had to get things done.

The average participant rated their business skills 50 per cent higher than what they were at the start of the course.

The course provided valuable support and experience for those involved with 29 per cent unemployed at the start of the course. It also helped those who were already self-employed (31 per cent) to improve their business success.

According to the PopUp Business School, the new businesses will provide a £507,000 annual boost to the local economy through benefit savings and increased incomes. The training course will therefore provide a lasting, positive impact on Havering. 

Through the course, Tahira, who owns love4rumi, an alternative medicine and natural health business, received valuable support and advice. She said: “I've just been approved by Amazon Handmade to sell via their marketplace which will certainly take my products to a wider market and my business to the next level.  

“The support I've received so far has been fantastic. As a lone parent and mother of an autistic child, these types of resources are absolutely crucial as traditional employment roles are sometimes inaccessible due to childcare needs.”

Funding for the course came from Wates Giving, the charitable arm of the Wates Family Enterprise Trust.

Kate Ives, Development Director for Wates Residential, said:

“Wates Residential is passionate about improving opportunities for residents in Havering and the wider East London area through our partnership with Havering Council. We are thrilled that so many people were able to make their dreams a reality through the PopUp Business School and we look forward to seeing how the new businesses grow over the coming months and years."

Leader of Havering Council, Councillor Damian White, said: 

“Supporting local businesses is a key priority for the Council, and I am pleased to see that the PopUp Business School has not only helped small businesses find their feet but will lead to a significant boost in the local economy. I wish all attendees the best of luck with their businesses moving forward.”