Unity steps out of pandemic with fast track to

Cedric Boston, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive (right), and Adrian Green, Unity Enterprise manager, at Leeds Media Centre where the Steps to Business programme will be hosted

A new scheme to give aspiring Leeds entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their own sustainable business is being launched by BME-led housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise.

The Steps to Business programme has been developed in partnership with iota Business and The Apple Box Company whose representatives will be on hand throughout the 12-week process to assist up to 10 candidates.

Applicants will be invited to attend an initial assessment to discuss their business idea and establish if they possess the skills and drive to progress it.

Those chosen to take part in the programme will be given their own space in the impressive business hub at Leeds Media Centre in Chapeltown – one of three business centres run by Unity – as well as access to other services offered by the three organisations.

Each participant will be required to attend up to eight workshops on topics including business structure, legal responsibilities, raising finance, market testing and the effective use of social media.

The business adviser will also assist with the preparation of bespoke business plans for each candidate setting out objectives, key quantifiable targets and financial projections.

Participants will then be invited to attend an interview with a panel of experts to discuss their business idea in-depth.

The candidate deemed to have most potential will receive the Unity Scholarship which includes a £1,000 grant to purchase IT kit or tools and a £250 payment every month for 12 months.

Cedric Boston, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive, said: “Unity stands out amongst housing associations in having employment, training and entrepreneurial services which allow us to offer numerous opportunities to directly transform life chances.

“The Steps to Business programme provides an exciting but challenging route for talented individuals to learn new skills, set up their own business and create economic opportunities in the local community through inclusive growth.

“We are particularly keen to reach out to people who may not have had the chances they deserve in life and, with the guidance and structure this initiative provides, will grasp the opportunity to show what they can do.

“I encourage people of all ages who believe they have what it takes to achieve business success to get in touch.”

Adrian Green, Unity Enterprise manager, said: “Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so each candidate will be mentored according to their individual needs.

“Steps to Business will offer an array of pre and post start-up advice and support to ambitious individuals with the enterprising spirit, the drive to start a business and the capability to make it a success.

“Following its launch with the first cohort later this spring, it is our intention to repeat the initiative every six months to give as many prospective entrepreneurs as possible the chance to fulfil their business potential.”

Cristine Wilson, iota Business founder, said: “We have more than 30 years of experience in helping fledging entrepreneurs and small enterprises start and market their businesses, empowering them to realise their dreams of self-reliance, creativity and financial independence.

“iota is proud to be playing our part in this exciting new venture.”

A spokesperson for The Apple Box Company said: “Amongst the services offered by The Apple Box Company, encouraging local entrepreneurship by helping new start-ups to manifest their dreams and assisting going concerns to achieve their goals and objectives is one of our main priorities.

“We look forward to making Steps to Business a resounding success.”