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29 May 2020

Supporting people to start their own businesses

Read about how Forward's Enterprise Team are supporting people to find, create, and sustain employment.

Despite all of the challenges that Covid-19 is presenting us with, our Employment Services Division is continuing to deliver excellent work to support people to find, create and sustain employment.

A key component of this is our Enterprise Team, who work with people that are interested in starting up their own business, or who have already set one up but need some extra help in taking it to the next level.

Starting your own business during the middle of a global pandemic might sound like inopportune timing. But for some people – such as those who have been furloughed, made redundant or who simply want to refocus their goals – the current situation has been an opportunity to spend some time working up a business plan for their dream venture. That’s where Stephen Anderson – Forward’s Enterprise Coach – comes in. Here’s how he’s helping people get their business ideas off the ground…

“No day is ever the same – especially right now! But my main focus is to work with clients to develop their business ideas and give support to people who are considering self-employment or starting up a business.
I’m also involved in running the Forward Enterprise Fund, which provides loans, business support and crowdfunding opportunities to organisations and individuals that work with ex-offenders and people in recovery from addiction.”

There are three key components to the Forward Enterprise Fund:

  • Business Support: delivered by one of the fund’s business support providers, which helps people to launch or grow their business or project. It involves up to 10 days of advisory and development support to help organisations launch a new initiative or to expand existing work.
  • Crowdfunder match-funding: The second component involves a partnership with Crowdfunder, the largest crowdfunding platform in the UK. This allows us to help eligible start-up enterprises or individuals to access match-funding and get their business started.
  • Loans: The fund also provides unsecured loans between £25,000 and £150,000 for businesses that need a cash injection to expand their operations. An unsecured loan means the business does not need an asset to secure the loan against, which is normally a requirement for a traditional bank loan.

One of the people the fund has recently worked with is Gethin Jones, an ex-offender who set up Unlocking Potential, a bespoke training and coaching service. Gethin is developing a new project that seeks to motivate UK prisoners to turn their lives around by creating inspirational videos that can be shown in their prison cells. We are excited to work with him, and many other businesses, to create new and exciting opportunities for people in recovery from addiction and ex-offenders.

Our Employment Services Division has also been hosting a series of free webinars to provide remote employment support and share key learnings from the lockdown with other employers. The first of these was hosted by the Enterprise Team: The Journey of a Successful Entrepreneur featured a panel of experienced start-up entrepreneurs, two of whom have lived experience of crime or addiction, sharing their top tips, things they wish they’d known when starting up and how their businesses – and they – have adapted to the challenges of COVID-19.

Watch it here: To find out more about the Forward Enterprise Fund, visit