Described as the worst decline since the Great Depression, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on business and the economy. Both big name brands and SMEs have struggled to stay afloat; never has ‘sink or swim’ felt more relevant.
However, one area of business has flourished over the past 18 months. Covid-19 triggered a start-up boom. As people have had more time to dedicate to their ‘side hussle’ and make money out of lockdown hobbies, the result has been an entrepreneur explosion.
During Global Entrepreneurship Week, we celebrate and empower a new generation of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs who have emerged during the biggest global disaster of our lifetime and have remained resilient in the face of adversity.
At USW, we were on hand to help small business owners who saw an opportunity during lockdown. Partnered with NatWest Cymru, we launched the Developing Entrepreneurial Women programme – a bespoke programme that set out to address many of the barriers highlighted in the Alison Rose Review on Female Entrepreneurship.
Chris Wright, USW Exchange Manager, said: “The Developing Entrepreneurial Women programme has been a fantastic example of how the University of South Wales draws on its collective expertise, spanning Student Enterprise; South Wales Business School; Alumni Graduate Network; Professional Development; USW Exchange and our network of business support intermediaries to support the challenge of post-pandemic economic recovery.”
The programme included start-up virtual masterclasses, small business coaching and personal development opportunities, panel events and buddy-up support from our own graduate entrepreneurs from the USW Alumni network, allowing participants to see their business ideas come to life.
Cheryl Gourlay, Women in Business Manager at NatWest, said: “We know that building back better following the pandemic needed to include the provision of practical interventions that make a real difference to the success of our business community and the Developing Entrepreneurial Women Programme has made a huge difference to the women who took part in the programme giving them the tools and confidence they needed to achieve their ambitions.”
Laura Kingdon, founder of Clarity at Work, which provides intense 2-day coaching packages, said: "Prior to the Developing Entrepreneurial Women programme, I felt out of my depth as a business owner. I struggled to price my product let alone market it to others. I now have a regular income and am considering how I’ll fund and grow my venture in years to come. Each session inspired me and helped build my confidence."
You can find out more about the businesses that have been supported by the Developing Entreprenuerial Women programme on our showcase page here.