2nd February 2024
Ten young West Cumbrians are going into business thanks to an initiative from Cumbria Community Foundation and the Centre for Leadership Performance.
Positive Enterprise provides budding entrepreneurs with a £1,000 grant and support to make their business ideas a reality. It is funded by property developer Brian Scowcroft with match funding from Sellafield Ltd under its Transforming West Cumbria programme.
Seven young people took part when it began last year.
Another 10 have signed up for the 2024 scheme, launched last week at The Bus Station in Whitehaven.
David Beeby, Chair of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “We set up Positive Enterprise because West Cumbria is under-represented, compared with other parts of the country, in terms of numbers of young entrepreneurs.
“We’ve got a very good crop this year, with a diverse range of businesses, and it will be exciting to see how they develop.”
Rhianna Smith, Early Careers Project Lead at the Centre for Leadership and Performance, in Cockermouth, said: “For the young people, it’s all about their development. Last year it was amazing to see the participants thrive, come out of their shells, build confidence and find something they loved doing.”
Positive Enterprise is open to anyone aged between 14 and 25 living in the former districts of Allerdale and Copeland.
As well as the grant, participants get six months’ support to include workshops, expert advice, mentoring and the opportunity to shadow local entrepreneurs.
Tracey West, Senior Social Impact Manager at Sellafield Ltd, said: “We want to encourage and support young entrepreneurs by making it easier for them to access the right advice at the right time, build a peer-led environment where they thrive alongside some financial assistance to get their business idea of the ground. I’m delighted Positive Enterprise is continuing to strengthen the growing network of young entrepreneurs in West Cumbria, by fuelling their ambition, confidence and commitment and helping them to succeed.”
This year’s Positive Enterprise participants are Isabelle Barratt, 17, of Distington; Meyrem Korkmaz, 16, of Maryport; Jasmine Riddick, 16, of Workington; Jackson Slack, 16, of Wigton; Haidee Trohear, 16, of Seascale; and Alfie Goodwin, 15, Aaron Groggins, 21, Ava Marshall, 15, Chloe Pennington, 15, and Scott Sharpe, 21, all from Whitehaven.
Their business ideas include an American-style laundromat, American candy and drinks, bespoke bouquets, pet accessories, beauty products, football coaching, artwork and personal gifts, and custom glassware.
While some are still at school, two are running their embryonic businesses while holding down full-time jobs.
Aaron Groggins, an electrical design engineer at Sellafield, will help businesses with online marketing, social media and web content.
He said: “Small businesses often can’t afford to employ someone to do this for them. My model is to help them grow a presence, develop social media channels and then leave them confident to continue the journey themselves.”
Scott Sharpe, an apprentice at Sellafield, is running a vintage clothing business.
He said: “The plan is to buy clothing from wholesalers, charity shops and car boot sales, then sell through a website and eventually get a shop.”
The launch at The Bus Station, attended by the participants and their families, heard from Millom entrepreneur Jenny Brumby who has been running businesses since she was 14 and is now a mentor for Positive Enterprise.
She advised them: “Keep it simple, do your market research, consider making your business a social enterprise to give something back, don’t fear failure, collaborate and work with each other. Most importantly, enjoy the journey.”
Also speaking was Amber Shankland who gave up her job as a wedding planner during Covid to set up a cake business, Love at First Bite, working initially from her then home in Distington. She stressed the benefits of being your own boss.
“There’s a sense of freedom in being able to pick your own ideas and work when you want,” she said.
“The good times outweigh the bad. It isn’t easy, you have to give everything to make it work, but you have that control. Try and be as unique as you can. It can be daunting but just put yourself out there.”
There was advice too from two of last year’s participants. Lennon Glass, of Cockermouth, took questions, while Luke Eilbeck, from Wigton, sent a video message telling the new intake: “Make the most of the support. I’m sure you’ll all be brilliant. I can’t wait to hear the success stories in a few months’ time.”