Business academy returns to help women kick-start their SME ventures

First cohort of WO Business Academy graduates

A business academy aimed at helping women kick-start their SME plans is starting this month, including £200 of support for each participant.

Following the success of a pilot scheme in September, Liverpool-based support network, The Women’s Organisation, is running another academy session, starting on November 18.

Its first cohort in September saw nine women from all walks of life build their business plan and kick-start their careers.

From holistic services to sustainable fashion and selling speciality tea, these budding entrepreneurs are now ready to break barriers and become their own boss.

The WO Business Academy aims to help women in the Liverpool City Region turn their business ideas into reality. The programme has been designed to help women develop the hard and soft skills required to become a successful business owner.

Covering everything from confidence and resilience to finance planning, pitching and presentation skills, and marketing, The WO Business Academy provides a safe and collaborative environment to learn and grow alongside other, like-minded women.

At the end of the programme, The Women’s Organisation will provide a £200 graduation grant to ensure the programme presents no additional financial pressure to participants, as the cost-of-living-crisis intensifies.

Business advisor and lead at The WO Business Academy, Carole Sheppard, said: “It has been a pleasure to watch these women grow in confidence, form friendships, and bring their business idea to life.

“A group of women who started out as strangers, from different backgrounds and of varying ages, have ended up as friends and colleagues, who care about each other’s futures and champion one another’s goals.

“It’s been a privilege to see these women learn, grow, and become empowered with the skills and the confidence to take the next step on their journey. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

Roxana, one of the graduates from the first cohort, said she loved the “friendliness, patience and professionalism” at The WO Business Academy and endorsed it as a “place where you can connect with similar people”.

The WO Business Academy is open to women in the Liverpool city region who are currently out of work and who have an idea for a start-up business or would like to explore the opportunity to work for themselves.

The programme consists of hybrid learning, including 25 hours of fully-funded business workshops, support, and advice.

Participants will need to complete 85% of the course to graduate and access the grant.

It provides a flexible hybrid working scheme comprising relaxed, home learning and interactive, in-person sessions to allow those involve to bond and form useful networks while managing their home life and personal commitments.