How Enterprise Hubs are changing lives

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People finding themselves without employment can face a struggle to get themselves back into work. But, according to the founder and CEO of US small business funding company Seek Capital, the unemployed are in the best position to launch their own business.

In a Forbes article, Roy Ferman states that figures show there are more start-ups in the US than before the pandemic. He believes unemployment can provide inspiration to people to set up their own enterprise.

Those facing economic hardship may believe that starting a business without substantial funds is impossible. But, did you know the founders of takeaway food giant Subway and Hewlett-Packard started with very little?

Finding the right advice and support is the often the biggest issue, which is why NAYBA launched The Spirit of Enterprise during the pandemic. Through Enterprise Hubs, churches can empower people out of poverty.

Using the skills and experience of entrepreneurs within their membership, churches are well placed to offer a lasting solution to unemployment.

NAYBA Enterprise Catalyst Geoff Baxter OBE explains more about how Enterprise Hubs work and how they are already changing lives in the UK.

What was the idea behind Enterprise Hubs?

It comes from our CEO, Matt Bird, who wrote an article in The Times of London in January 2021. In it, he challenged the Church to help fuel an ‘outbreak in the spirit of enterprise’.

As a result of the feedback, Matt wrote a book called The Spirit of Enterprise. Churches then got in touch to find out how they could engage with enterprise.

How is the church best placed to help?

In the past, churches have run job clubs or offered training for young people. But one of the areas where there appears to be a gap is in supporting people who are more suited to self-employment or to enterprise. To set up such a business is difficult unless you've got the right support network.

The local church is best placed to help because it can be challenging and lonely setting up your own enterprise. It can be a real benefit to journey with other people in a similar situation and support each other can be of a real benefit.

But the other thing is to tap into some of the other members of the church, who've got experience and can help out on some of the practical things, such as understanding how to budget, how to do your cashflow, how to do marketing and sales, etc.

How do Enterprise Hubs work?

There are three steps to launching an Enterprise Hub. The first is to run an Enterprise Connect event. This is where a church can invite people who are interested in exploring enterprise, whether that's because they've got an idea of their own, or maybe they have a job and want to look at other options.

Step two is to run The Enterprise Course, which is a seven-session course that journeys through the areas you need to understand and explore if you're going to set up your own enterprise. By the end of the course, the person will have a business plan around their idea.

Then, finally, there’s step three, which Enterprise Co-Working. Once the course is completed, people graduate and their enterprise idea is ready to go. The church then offers a place for co-working and that could be a physical co-working space that the church provides. This allows people to come in and work from that space, which can really give them a great head start. If you can access the space that you need to actually run your business, that's going to help a lot. Or, the co-working could be where people connect as individuals and support each other as they launch the business.

What about support after the Enterprise Hub reaches its third step?

We link each participant with a mentor, so as we move into co-working there’s an opportunity for mentors to help in that first 12 months of the business. Statistics show that a lot of new businesses fail within the first 12 months, and a lot of that is down to the cashflow initially.

So, having somebody that understands those risks and understands how you can navigate your way through them is going to be really helpful. They can help with applying for business loans or some funding, for example, or help access the appropriate equipment needed for the enterprise.

It means that when a problem comes along, it's not necessarily unsurmountable. It's just you don't quite know where to turn.

Enterprise Hubs have started in the UK. Have there been any successes?

Yes, there has. The first seven enterprises have launched. Our first four were in Cheshire and there is already a good business network forming around that church. There are some very experienced mentors giving support, and the church has given co-working space, which is helping the enterprises grow.

A total of 22 Enterprise Courses are now running and there’s a real mix of people and ideas. It’s not just individuals, either: we have instances where two people are journeying together and there are even bigger groups of eight, nine or ten people.

While we’ve launched in the UK, NAYBA wants to launch more Enterprise Hubs around the world. It’s going to be an exciting time for us and the churches that are involved to demonstrate how giving support can really help change lives.

For more details about setting up Enterprise Hubs, click here.

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