Islanders inspired to turn business dreams into reality

Young woman working on a laptop in her living room

2nd November 2020

Budding entrepreneurs on the Isle of Wight have welcomed the return of PopUp Business School. Despite the challenges presented to its usual format by current restrictions, the course saw 103 members of the local community get involved in a series of engaging online workshops.

Deputy leader of Isle of Wight Council and cabinet member for strategic finance and COVID-19 recovery, Councillor Stuart Hutchinson, said: ‘The island’s economy has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. That’s why the council are determined to do everything we can to help local people get back on their feet. PopUp Business School was a huge success last year and I look forward to seeing the achievements from this year’s cohort.’

By coming together in partnership, the event was jointly sponsored by the Isle of Wight Council and local housing associations Sovereign and Southern Housing Group, the course helped to inspire a range of people and give them the tools and confidence they need to launch their ideas into reality. Participants ranged from those with no previous business experience at all to those already running successful start-ups who simply needed some guidance to weather these challenging times.

The two-week course provided online training through a mix of hands-on sessions, one-to-one coaching, workshops and local peer support, all packaged so that islanders could ‘attend’ from their homes. Participants were able to develop a range of practical skills and insights, from learning how tackle tax returns and reliefs through to personal presentation skills and learning how to pitch business ideas.

A local resident Gabi Zemetro said: ‘Taking part in the PopUp Business School two-week course was a fantastic opportunity to learn everything about starting and running your own business. Now running a business seems to be much easier than I previously thought.

I realised that the main thing which stops us from taking an action is fear and lack of self-confidence. After taking part in the course, I now understand what I really want in life and how to get it.’

Since its inception, PopUp Business School has helped over 1,500 businesses across the UK become a success. Last year, the course helped 74 Southern Housing Group and Sovereign residents learn life-changing skills.

Matt Buckham, Communities Director – Sovereign, said: ‘At Sovereign we focus on the strengths of our customers and enabling them to thrive, and the PopUp business schools programme aligns with this principle. It’s all about igniting inspirational ideas to start a business from scratch with limited resource, moving it onto trading and building up the skill set of our customers.’

Southern Housing Group Director of Community Investment and Care, Anabel Palmer, commented: ‘Southern Housing Group is delighted to have helped bring back the fantastic PopUp Business School to the Isle of Wight. We’ve seen first-hand the benefits attending this course can bring to residents and the skills participants learn are truly life-changing.’

Simon Paine, PopUp Business School co-founder and CEO, explained: ‘There’s nothing better than meeting someone with no business experience and guiding them through their first sale - it can transform lives.

‘You don’t need money, experience or a university degree to start a business. You just need an idea, some passion and a bit of help.

‘Many of those attending will leave with a business and a first sale. Those who don’t will still take away business skills, practical advice and confidence. We like to say: ‘this is the best business course money can’t buy.’