WINNER OF THE KPMG 'Inspiring Confidence and empowering change' INDIVIDUAL TOPIC COMPETITION
The aim of our project is to help long-term unemployed women to become financially independent through employment or entrepreneurship. By offering women the opportunity to learn online business skills on our programme, they are able to explore their options in self-employment through online entrepreneurship, or through developing useful skills that are transferable to new workplaces.
Many of our beneficiaries are dependent on long-term social security benefits. The ages and backgrounds of the women vary but what they all have in common is the passion, enthusiasm and self-determination to realise their own goals of independence through seeking and taking up opportunities available to them.
These are values shared by Creative Cycle and our communication with charities throughout the duration of our partnerships, and our contact with beneficiaries has further inspired our collective work in this area. The individual stories of the women continue to remind us of why we are passionate about developing our programme alongside of their interests.
Creative Cycle runs two programme streams in order to cater to the different interests of the beneficiaries who come to us. Our introductory stream is aimed at those who are uncertain about their career path interests. Here, we focus on experiential learning and expose our beneficiaries to different topics in the workshop, while offering them work experience opportunities to further discover this.
Our intermediate programme is aimed at beneficiaries with existing business ideas and here, we focus on offering them tailored advice as to how to implement them in practice. in both programmes, we teach all beneficiaries core online business skills through one-on-one mentoring on a weekly basis for the introductory stream, and a fortnightly basis for the intermediate stream. Work experience opportunities are also available to the beneficiaries under this stream too.
After each session, our beneficiaries complete feedback forms and we have consistently received positive feedback on the quality of our sessions. In the final feedback forms, all beneficiaries agreed that they felt they had achieved their initial aims when joining the programme, namely, to gain knowledge and skills in online selling, marketing and accounting, as well as to develop their IT skills. For some, the use of social media to market products was initially approached with scepticism, and the use of programs such as Microsoft Excel, seen as intimidating due to lack of previous exposure to its usage. However, through the support offered by our mentors, the beneficiaries felt more at ease with navigating the basics of both technological tools by the end of our programme.
Several beneficiaries undertook work experience with one of our business partnerships which has helped to clarify their career interests some more, and has positively increased their confidence at work. As well as this, another beneficiary has gained to confidence to begin trading her own products online soon, and she joins several other beneficiaries who have set up their own online businesses after joining our programme.
Creative Cycle has developed its own online forum to connect past, present and future beneficiaries together with the existing project members. This provides our beneficiaries with continuous support as they continue to navigate their journeys towards entrepreneurial success. For those interested in other employment, we are looking to conduct follow-up sessions on their progress and have already with our charity partnerships to try to develop career support mechanisms.