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Colleges unite to roll out to help aspiring entrepreneurs

Twelve colleges have united to become founding partners of Visionnaires, a not-for profit organisation with the potential to help thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs across the UK.

Visionnaires provides free programmes for people wanting to start their own business or become self-employed, which include workshops, seminars, resources, support and advice.

Figures show that:

· Nearly two thirds of UK adults want to set up their own business

· 83 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds dream of self-employment

· More than 650,000 start-ups were founded in the UK from 2019-20

· Start-ups have created 40 per cent of new jobs in the UK.

Visionnaires was originally founded within Capital City College Group (CCCG) in 2019, with United Colleges Group, South Thames Colleges Group and NCG joining to form a community interest company in August this year.

CCCG already runs programmes through City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing) and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), and its apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training (CCCT).

The new partner college groups are now rolling out programmes at eight further colleges – City of Westminster College, College of North West London, South Thames College, Carshalton College, Kingston College, Lewisham College, Southwark College and Carlisle College.

Colleges from across the UK are invited to join Visionnaires to encourage entrepreneurship in their communities and grow local economies.

Visionnaires has already helped more than 400 entrepreneurs from many diverse backgrounds start new businesses. A huge 96 per cent of participants have endorsed the programme as ‘excellent’.

Participants take part in practical workshops and receive expert advice and resources on topics including marketing, selling, finance and business planning. They can also promote their business in the Marketplace section of the Visionnaires website and continue to receive support and resources from Visionnaires indefinitely.

Visionnaires also runs workshops to inspire entrepreneurship among young people.

Nicolas and Julia Vendramin launched their fashion business LABELL-D after joining Visionnaires. The company sells collections from top designers made from recycled and sustainable materials.

Nicolas, 40, who previously worked for fashion houses including Hugo Boss, Bally and Harrys of London, said: “The fashion industry is very polluting in its nature and we wanted to do something about that. We’ve always been passionate about sustainable living and decided to set-up our own company to sell sustainable fashion.

“As I’ve always worked in big companies and thought big too – 10 steps ahead – but Wendy, my Visionnaires tutor, brought me down to earth and reminded me that a new business has to start from zero. The six-week course she taught was very pragmatic and helped me focus on the basics and get them right first. It was also great to learn with other entrepreneurs.”

Jay Patel, 29, joined Visionnaires to help him start up his culinary business Flavour Street to enable cooks to sell and deliver their own home-cooked food.

He said: “I have always been a massive foodie. I have family in hospitality and always been around it, but had never really done anything about it. I think the marketing part of the programme was the most helpful for me. I learnt how to plane out a campaign in a structured way. Also, I learnt a lot from the other participants on the programme too.”

Visionnaires’ CEO is social entrepreneur Pablo Lloyd OBE.

He said: “We’ve been running Visionnaires in partnership with CCCG for the past two years where we have seen a lot of demand and very encouraging feedback from participants. We have now developed a rich ecosystem of support for people who want to start their own business or become self-employed.

“Over the past year a number of other colleges expressed an interest in working with Visionnaires, and off the back of that, I am delighted the programme is now available with 12 colleges to enable many more people in their communities to fulfil their entrepreneurial hopes and dreams and contribute to their local economy. We are now in discussion with other colleges across the UK to reach even more budding entrepreneurs.”

Click here to find out more about Visionnaires Masterclasses during Entrepreneur Week.

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