Meet one of our first Spirit of Enterprise graduates

by
Matt Bird


At the start of 2021, NAYBA introduced the Spirit of Enterprise! We believed that the Church could stand up and help people who were without employment due to the upheaval caused by the pandemic.

The seed for Spirit of Enterprise was planted in a column in The Times newspaper that our founder, Matt Bird, had written to challenge churches. He believed that the congregation of many churches included entrepreneurs who could share their experience to spread hope through the creation of new businesses.

As we come to the close of the year, the first four Spirit of Enterprise course graduates have launched a new business. And 20 churches have already signed up to launch courses in 2022.

The first church to take part was Zac’s House Kingdom Community in Cheshire. With the help of our Spirit of Enterprise Ambassador, Jane Gould Smith, the church has given fresh hope to four people.

Its pastor, Neal Stanton, said, “I’m delighted that we were the first church to take part in Spirit of Enterprise. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity for our church to reach out into its community.

“All four graduates had great ideas but a poverty of ambition. We needed to raise the bar to help them achieve both individually and as a team. As well as four new entrepreneurs, we have helped establish a new business support community for each of them.”

One of the graduates is artist and photographer André Van-Thomas, who is seeing his dream of setting up his own enterprise come true. Here, the 36-year-old explains how Spirit of Enterprise has changed his life.

How did you find out about the Spirit of Enterprise course?

André: I am quite actively involved with community events and someone mentioned the Spirit of Enterprise. The church has a building where I live so I asked about it.

What did you expect of the course?

André: To be quite honest, I didn’t know what to expect. But  I've been a struggling artist for the last 25 years, mainly because I find it hard to value my own work. I do a lot of charity work but not the confidence to set up as a business.

What has the Spirit of Enterprise course shown you?

André: It’s shown me how my art can be an enterprise. I have set up a business concentrating on the three different areas I work in: photography, design and printing. The course enabled me to take that leap of faith and create that business.  It has given me the confidence to grow and to communicate with people better. I was not expecting to come out of the other side with a fully running idea for a business. It’s not something I ever imagined.

What did you like about the course?

André: I had a vague idea for a business but didn't know how to execute it. Spirit of Enterprise has been amazing because I’ve had conversations with people in a similar situation and that really helped me. Also, there were great tips on marketing and other areas that I’d not thought of. The extra help from the mentors has been exactly what I needed.

What does your future look like?

André: Everything I do is handmade at the moment, but as the business grows I am hoping to buy a 3D printer and do other lines. The ability for what the company is able to do now is endless!

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