A fully funded after-work programme designed to support people into starting businesses is set to launch in Pontypridd.
The workshops are open to anyone and start from the 13th June at the Garth Olwg Life-long learning centre in Church Village, Pontypridd.
The Pontypridd club is being held in conjunction with Near Me Now, a Welsh ICE based-business founded by Victoria Mann, who is herself from Church Village.
Vicky said that she wanted to be a part of bringing the support she had received at ICE, to her home town: “I joined ICE through its Accelerator programme as Near Me Now was chosen as a potential high-growth business, but I quickly became part of the community at the Campus.
“The support I received was fantastic and it was something I had been searching for in RCT, but was unable to find. So after chatting with the Outreach Manager Lesley, I saw that there might be a great chance to bring the benefits of ICE to my home town, and so worked with her to set it up. We’ve already had a lot of signups which is fantastic and I feel really proud to be a part of what I know will be the first steps in many founder’s journeys.
“There are so many people in the area who have an idea but just don’t have the time, or don’t know where to start, and I’d encourage anyone who thinks they might have something to get in touch with Lesley – because this is a real opportunity that has already helped so many people.”
The clubs are a key part of the Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise’s (ICE) outreach programme, as it looks to connect with potential business founders across south east Wales.
The eight-week course features a series of workshops where attendees can develop their idea, supported by entrepreneurs who have been through the startup process and now manage businesses of their own.
Each week is hosted by a different expert who guides participants through different aspects of starting a business, from developing their business plan right through to launching and even seeking investment.
So far, the outreach programme has held workshops in Merthyr and Ebbw Vale, with plans for further programmes in Caerphilly and Treorchy.
Outreach Engagement Manager, Lesley Williams said anyone who has an idea for a business but isn’t sure where to start should apply:
“Since taking ICE on tour through our outreach work I’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm and desire for our support. Coming from the Valleys myself, I already knew how much potential the area has, but there’s a real sense of opportunity there that just isn’t promoted enough.
“So many people have ‘side-gigs’ that they do to try and earn a bit of extra cash. From baking and selling cakes to making wedding flowers and crafts, people are engaging in enterprise without realising it. Ultimately, this is the only way we are going to revitalise the valleys, by growing ourselves back to prosperity. When more people are starting businesses and taking control of their own income, the jobs and local economies will follow. But it all has to start somewhere, and that’s why I would encourage anyone who has an idea, no matter how big or small, to get in touch with us and see if we can help them realise their dream.”
Welsh ICE is one of five regional enterprise hubs across Wales, all funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The hubs will see over £4m invested to provide supportive spaces and mentoring for new and growing businesses, with the ICE Campus supporting the South East Wales Valleys region.