Forest of Dean Entrepreneurs is an independent voluntary project supporting small and start-up businesses in the Forest of Dean through a range of different services. Whether you are already trading, just thinking about the possibility of starting your own business or are just about to launch but want some advice or reassurance, we can probably help.
Following a pilot project in 2011/12, a range of organisations came together voluntarily as a steering group to keep Forest of Dean Entrepreneurs going including Skills to Go, Adult Education Gloucestershire and local entrepreneurs. As originally intended, increasingly businesses that benefited from the project have joined the steering group. The members of the steering group are currently:
We are all committed to providing support for Forest of Dean residents delivered in the Forest of Dean, and are completely independent of anybody else’s instructions or agendas. We are not an arm of any Government agency, though many agencies and local organisations help by directing people towards us.
The project serves anyone in the Forest of Dean who has started or is thinking of starting up their own business, and wants some support and advice. We take the widest possible definition of the geographic area of the Forest, as our aim is to help anybody considering their own business in the area which could be termed the Forest of Dean. Over 130 local people had contacted the project by the autumn of 2013 and are being helped to discover whether or how to take their business idea forward at their own pace. In mid-2016 this had increased to over 400 people.
1. To provide support and signposting services to existing businesses
2. To provide an early discussion about the implications of setting up a new business
3. To provide training and support in the practical steps
4. To provide links to specialist advice
5. To provide the basis for local business contacts
Forest of Dean Entrepreneurs started as the pilot Forest Business Incubator project in 2011 to provide much-needed advice for business start-ups that was no longer being provided by Government agencies. In the initial stages the key funding partners were Adult Education in Gloucestershire, the Forest of Dean District Council, and Jobcentre Plus, supported by a number of other local agencies.
In order to keep the project going without being at the mercy of Government funding changes, a new steering group was formed in the second half of 2012 with the objective of keeping the services available for at least the next three years with the help of local business sponsorship. This has now been achieved, and funding for two further years has been renewed.
In 2013 the project was successful in gaining additional support from national charity Unltd, which amongst other things has funded the development of the project’s website.
We intend to provide friendly expert advice that is always available to people in the Forest of Dean through a range of events and training where individuals can explore the possibilities and practicalities of starting their own business. Where possible we reduce the cost of attending through winning external funding.