Entrepreneurs have graduated from the most successful Strive start-up business training programme so far in Wokingham.
Wokingham Borough Council has joined forces with local housing associations to hold the course over the past three months with funding from the Scape Reinvest programme.
Enterprise Cube, a social enterprise that aims to fill a gap between disadvantaged people and business, delivered the fourth annual Strive programme.
The course has been more successful than ever before with more graduates, and a waiting list for online business training that Wokingham Borough Council will be running later this year.
Entrepreneurs graduated at a ceremony with Wokingham MP John Redwood after rigorous training on the skills needed to create a business, ranging from market research to marketing and managing risk.
During the event, 17 entrepreneurs delivered a presentation on their business to a panel of business experts for feedback: Colin Willman from the Federation of Small Businesses, Cllr Philip Mirfin, the deputy executive member for business and economic development and regeneration at Wokingham Borough Council, Jill Caress from Housing Solutions and Justine Thompson from Bracknell Forest Homes.
Business ideas were diverse and wide ranging from video gaming to drone photography and burlesque dancing.
All graduates were awarded a certificate of achievement from Mr Redwood and constructive feedback from the panel of business experts. The top three entrepreneurs, decided by the panel, were given a small bursary in order to help them set up their future business.
Strive graduate Sheila Dugdale, who produces personalised scents and aromatherapy products under the business names Signatures and Rituals, said: “My business idea sprung from making a perfume for my granddaughter’s 14th birthday.
“I think that it would also be good for dads wanting to give their daughters a special present for their prom.”
She added: “Strive has been absolutely wonderful. The course was accessible, I was able to go at my own pace and it was very flexible.”
“The best thing was the networking. I was wondering about how I would present my business online.
“Through Strive I have made connections with web designers as well as another contact that can help me with package my products.”
Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development and regeneration at the council, said: “It’s great to see local residents really realise their potential and take control of their lives to use their skills and passion to start their own business.
“As a council we believe strongly in helping people to help themselves and the Strive programme does this.”
Andy Nicholls, economic development officer, added: “This year’s programme has been the most successful so far and we have a waiting list for online business training later in the year.”
The Scape Reinvest programme is an initiative by the Scape Group, which is a public sector owner built environment specialist.
Anyone interested in taking part in any future ‘Strive’ training programmes, can contact Andy Nicholls on (0118) 974 6018.