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Disadvantaged succeed in business

Published: 15th January 2008

DISADVANTAGED people are the main winners in a highly successful enterprise scheme pioneered in Manchester.

Since its launch in 2001, the New Entrepreneur Scholarship Scheme has helped 5,500 people into work from some of the most deprived districts of the UK.

An evaluation of the scheme, commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council, published this week, finds that three-quarters of people completing the part-time course go on to set up their own business within three months.

NES businesses have an extremely high survival rate with 94% still in business after a year, 86% going strong after three years and three-quarters still trading after five.

Financial support

The programmes are funded by the Learning and Skills Council and delivered locally by colleges in areas of unemployment like Liverpool, Rochdale and Oldham. The part-time courses offer a package of training, support and monitoring including financial support to encourage new start-ups.

Dominic Martinez, who project manages NES North West out of MMU Business School, which piloted the first scheme, said: "People from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds often have the ideas and ambition to succeed in business, but many find it hard to get support and finance relevant to their needs.

"NES offers real practical support in planning a successful business and is flexible enough to allow you to learn and study around your business commitments."

The evaluation research also found that the programme has tremendous success in reaching the most disadvantaged groups with 59% of recruits classed as unemployed or inactive at the start of the course.

Socially inclusive

Other scholar profiles include those with a disability (10%) and lone parents (16%), while 30% describe themselves as non-white.

At a time when policymakers are encouraging the support of women in enterprise, the survey also confirms that 46% of its scholars are female.

George Derbyshire, CEO at the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies, the lead management partner for NES, said: "We have always believed that the NES programme hits the spot in terms of reaching disadvantaged areas of the population, and that is delivers a highly-effective business start-up programme

NES works for Fiona

"NES gave me the knowledge to develop my business, and the confidence to promote myself and my work," says Salford entrepreneur Fiona O’Gorman, one of 1,500 people to take the course in the North West.

Fiona worked in retail before taking the plunge to set up on her own as a photographer. "I’ve done everything from weddings and pets to double glazing and caravans!" she says.

Having used the NES support funds for new camera equipment, a laptop and stationery, Fiona is supplementing her income by teaching part-time at the Abraham Moss Centre.

"I knew it was going to be hard work to make a living from my photography, she says. “But with the help of NES, I have written a fantastic business plan, which I can refer to and which I’m very proud of."

NES is a free part-time business development programme for people wanting to start and manage their own businesses. NES programmes in the North West are run in Manchester, Liverpool, Rochdale, Oldham, Lancashire, Cumbria and Barrow-in-Furness.

NES is funded by the Learning and Skills Council, managed by the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies, the Association of Business Schools and the Prince’s Trust. In the North West, MMU Business School is the regional contractor for the programme.

For more information, contact Dominic Martinez, Project Manager, NES, Centre for Enterprise, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, Manchester 0161 247 3954 or