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Supporting 400 businesses in Cheshire and Warrington to get off the ground

May 11, 2021

Developing business, a key factor in post-pandemic recovery.

The Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme (BGP) is celebrating helping its 400th business on the way to reaching its full potential.

Developing business will be a key factor in post-pandemic recovery and the BGP supports small and medium enterprises looking to grow, as well as budding entrepreneurs looking to develop their ideas into a business.

As well as helping 400 SMEs, the BGP team has supported 230 potential entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground.

The 400th business to enjoy its fully-funded expertise is Financielle, a financial wellness company focused on helping people to take control of their money, feel financially well and build their ideal life.

The University’s BGP team is looking forward to supporting Financielle’s growth and following its journey beyond the programme. Sisters Holly Holland and Laura Pomfret, Financielle’s founders, have recently completed the programme’s Start-Up Bootcamp, supporting and collaborating with other business owners, and gaining insight from Delivery Partner Simon Calderbank from Ruby Star Associates.

Alongside their BGP Business Development Manager, the sisters are also exploring student engagement opportunities, including internships, research projects and even guest speaking.

Laura Pomfret, from Financielle, said: “We are working hard to transition Financielle from an Instagram account to a globally-recognised financial wellness brand and the Business Growth Programme is supporting us throughout this process. We have a vision to help millions of people become financially well and we are excited to scale the business through the development of our own mobile application.”

Delivered by the University of Chester and partly funded by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund), the scheme was originally launched in late 2015 and has three phases, the third of which will see BGP continue until June 2023.

The University’s BGP team and its Delivery Partners provide support through events such as bootcamps, workshops as well as offering one-to-one sessions. Activities were originally held face-to-face, but moved online during the pandemic. Anyone running a small-to-medium enterprise, or who is an aspiring entrepreneur in Cheshire and Warrington, is entitled to receive 12 hours of fully-funded support through the scheme.

Last year, a small grants scheme was introduced by the BGP and one-to-one support now includes support with grant applications. Four beneficiaries, Telford Productions; BAA Consultancy; Forest and Clay; and Quinteassential have secured grants to grow their businesses. The BGP grant allowed Sam Telford from Telford Productions, to purchase equipment to grow his photography/videography business.

Several businesses and entrepreneurs have been able to benefit from access to technical support and facilities at the University’s NoWFOOD Centre and Thornton Science Park, while others are now commercial occupants at those locations or the University’s Riverside Innovation Centre.

Project lead Chris Koral said: “To offer support to 600 businesses/ entrepreneurs is a tremendous achievement. We have built, and are continuing to build, a strong a varied portfolio of businesses we have helped to support with more in the pipeline. I would like to thank everyone who has worked on the BGP since its inception.”

The BGP is delivered through a consortium approach with the Universities Economic Development Unit as the lead partner. The University of Chester is one of three Delivery Partners engaged in all three phases, alongside Manchester Metropolitan University and University Centre Reaseheath. Cheshire College -South & West and Warrington & Vale Royal College were Delivery Partners during the first phase.

The future of support offered by the BGP until 2023 is currently being shaped, with the emphasis on enabling clean and sustainable growth; increasing student engagement with beneficiaries; creating opportunities for business and entrepreneur beneficiaries to access/work with University expertise in research and innovation; supporting social enterprises and third sector organisations; engaging with more mid-sized SMEs and, in conjunction with University colleagues, creating an online resources portal for beneficiaries to access.

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