A drive to help churches encourage people to become entrepreneurs has stepped up a gear after it featured in a national UK newspaper.
The feature about The Spirit of Enterprise comes just weeks after the first four entrepreneurs graduated from the from the groundbreaking programme.
The Spirit of Enterprise was first mentioned in an article by NAYBA founder Matt Bird, which was published in The Times of London in January 2021. It highlighted how churches were in a unique position to spread hope by encouraging people to launch their own enterprise in the wake of the pandemic.
As result, the programme was launched and churches were challenged to step up and help those hit by unemployment.
Matt Bird said: “I began challenging churches towards the end of last year and The Times asked me to write a column about how important churches are to employment.
“Throughout history Christians and the Church has been at the root of enterprise and I believe God is calling us at a time like this to show his love through encouraging enterprise.
“There are a lot of business people in the pews of churches on a Sunday and I thought we could help them give something back by using their expertise through mentoring.”
Following an encouraging reponse to the publication of the article, NAYBA launched the Spirit of Enterprise programme and Matt published a book to accompany the course.
In the summer, NAYBA recruited experienced entrepreneur Geoff Baxter OBE as Enterprise Catalyst to lead the course. Since his recruitment, 20 local churches around the UK have started running The Enterprise Course. One of those has also launched a hub to provide continued support after businesses have launched.
Zac’s Kingdom Community, in Cheshire, piloted the programme and in the past few weeks, four entrepreneurs have graduated. These include profoundly deaf teenager Kiera selling cakes, Sarah McKechnie making party balloons, Andre Van-Thomas producing art pieces and Diane Smith designing and making T-shirts, pillows and cards.
Rev Neal Stanton, from Zac’s Kingdom Community, said: “When I first read the article I knew we had to get involved. So many people find themselves out of work and believe they have no future or hope. We wanted to change that.
“I’m delighted that we have seen our first four graduates set up their own enterprises. They all had great ideas but there was a poverty of ambition and we needed to raise the bar. They’re all now working together on things like marketing and attending fairs.”
Last month, churches in Leeds, Manchester, Canterbury, Cambridge, Glasgow and Coleraine, in Northern Ireland, signed up to the second round of the scheme.
The third round of Spirit of Enterprise programmes will be launched in January 2022, marking the first anniversary of the initiative.
“I knew when we launched Spirit of Enterprise God was calling us to make a difference. With the first graduates already completing the programme and so many churches making plans to launch, this is an exciting time for us all,” added Matt.