A fully funded after-work programme designed to support people into starting businesses has launched in Treorchy.
Held at the Cwm Farm Shop on Ynyswen Road, in what was once the Burberry clothes factory, the workshops are open to anyone who has an idea or wants to start a business.
The 5 to 9 Club™ aims to support individuals with an idea and help them turn it into a fully-fledged business by equipping them with the skills and knowledge they will need to launch and grow. The workshops are held once a week from 5pm to 9pm, to allow those who work full time to gain the experience and support needed to grow their business idea without taking the risk of giving up full-time employment.
The workshops are open to anyone and began from the 03 October at the Cwm Farm Shop, with a final ‘pitch night’ to be held in The Lion, Treorchy on 21 November. During the pitch night, participants will present their ideas to their fellow founders, talking through their business plan and their next steps.
Treorchy is no stranger to enterprise, with over 80% of its businesses being independent boutique stores. In fact, Treorchy is currently a finalist in the Great British Highstreet 2019 Awards.
The Treorchy club is being held in partnership with both venues, the Cwm Farm Shop and The Lion.
Owner of the Lion Treorchy and Chair of the Treorchy Chamber of Trade, Adrian Emmett, said he hoped the Clubs will further support aspiring businesses founders: “We’ve really bought into Welsh ICE’s vision of nurturing entrepreneurship and Outreach Manager Lesley has already connected with lots of promising people in the area. Treorchy is flourishing, and our high street currently has a 96% occupancy, which is a real achievement and not something you’ll find everywhere.
“It’s tough to start a business, especially when you are working full-time, so the idea of supporting people after work, so that you can help them overcome early obstacles is only going to help more enterprises grow. We’re really hoping to give the next generation of founders the help they need so they can start and build a business in Treorchy.”
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 start-up 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, Ebbw Vale, Pontypridd and Caerphilly.
Outreach Engagement Manager at Welsh ICE, 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 Treorchy myself, I already knew how much potential the area has, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this group of fledgeling entrepreneurs can bring.
“The fact that these workshops will be taking place on the site of the old Burberry factory is quite symbolic. The factory had been there for over 70 years, and it left a big hole in the area when it shut down. It’s a testament to the spirit of local people that where some regions are struggling and high streets are dying – Treorchy is thriving.
“The fact that so many of the businesses on the high street are independent is really encouraging. 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.