Auction of promises aims to help women achieve their business dream

An auction of promises this month aims to raise money to help more women launch their own enterprises.

The Growing Club CIC is organising the event to create a seed fund which will support women’s business start-up costs.

Organisers say they decided to act as there was less support than ever for women on benefits to enter into self-employment and they aim to raise £10,000.

Until December 2021, the Department for Work and Pensions offered the New Enterprise Allowance scheme. This provided both mentoring and financial support for those starting out as self-employed.

The Growing Club is launching an Auction of Promises to create a fund to help women launch their own businesses

One of The Growing Club’s founders, and managing director, Jane Binnion, experienced the positive support of the NEA back in 2010.

She said: “I was an unemployed single mum after being made redundant. It was through the support of the New Enterprise Allowance that I was able to start a business, otherwise I wouldn’t have managed it. There was also a grant I accessed, which helped me to buy a laptop and essentials, like business cards, and for 12-months there was £40-a-week benefit support that helped me to feed my family as my business grew.”

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Over the years, financial support has been reduced, but on the December 31, 2021, with almost no acknowledgement, the NEA ceased to exist. Support is now only available as a loan, with many women reluctant or unable to take on more debt.

Jane Binnion runs The Growing Club, a social enterprise in Lancaster that designs and delivers enterprise and employment skills for women www.thegrowingclub.co.uk

Jane continued: “The outcome is that if we don’t take action now, in the future, it will only be women with capital that will be able to start businesses. Women trapped within the benefits system will have another exit route blocked, meaning that regardless of their knowledge, skill and experience, they will once again be left behind.

"The Growing Club has always advocated for every woman to use their skills to strive towards financial independence – be that via good employment or running a sustainable business – and this Auction of Promises will enable a viable seed fund to help reduce barriers to women wanting to make a change."

People and businesses can help by donating a promise. One businesswoman has promised to do a media audit and strategy for a small business, worth £250.

Email [email protected] or call the office at 01524 383848 where a donated promise can be logged over the phone.