Support for young entrepreneurs in West Cumbria

On Thursday, February 29, 2024, ten young individuals from West Cumbria will embark on a journey towards entrepreneurship, thanks to the joint efforts of Cumbria Community Foundation and the Centre for Leadership Performance.

The initiative, called Positive Enterprise, aims to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with a £1,000 grant and support to turn their business ideas into reality.

Last year, seven young people were part of the inaugural program. This year, another 10 have been selected for the 2024 scheme, which was launched on January 25, 2024 in Whitehaven.

David Beeby, Chair of Cumbria Community Foundation, highlights the purpose behind Positive Enterprise: “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, emphasizes the importance of personal development for the participants: “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 individuals aged between 14 and 25, who reside in the former districts of Allerdale and Copeland. Along with the grant, participants will receive six months of support, including workshops, expert advice, mentoring, and the opportunity to shadow local entrepreneurs.

The Positive Enterprise initiative is made possible by the funding from property developer Brian Scowcroft, with match funding from Sellafield Ltd under its Transforming West Cumbria program.

Tracey West, Senior Social Impact Manager at Sellafield Ltd, explains the motivation behind their support: “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 off 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.”

The ten participants for this year’s Positive Enterprise program 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 participants are still in 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 shares his vision for his business: “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 shares his aspirations for the future: “The plan is to buy clothing from wholesalers, charity shops and car boot sales, then sell through a website and eventually get a shop.”

At the launch event, held at The Bus Station and attended by the participants and their families, Jenny Brumby, a successful Millom entrepreneur, shared her journey and is now a mentor for Positive Enterprise. She advised the young entrepreneurs: “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.”

Amber Shankland, who gave up her job as a wedding planner during Covid to set up a cake business, Love at First Bite, shared 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. 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.”

The event also featured advice from two of last year’s participants. Lennon Glass, of Cockermouth, took questions from the audience, while

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