SSE in collaboration with SPARK Somerset is offering fullu funded courses that are available for women to start and grow a business that benefits their community or environment.

The project aims to:create new learning content, train women entrepreneurs, recruit and train more mentors, help women to start new businesses and conduct new research on women’s entrepreneurship.

The three courses on offer are delivered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs at no cost to the participants. Learning sessions are designed to be practical, fun, and engaging and no formal qualifications are needed to apply. The courses are:

  • Sofa Sessions (online)
  • Nuts & Bolts (online)
  • Residential Accelerator (Cornwall)

Informal ‘Sofa Sessions’ start online on 8 February 2023, introducing ways women can work for themselves, or start a sustainable business that could increase their income. Women who join will be helped to adapt a community or environmental project into a business, or find their focus and develop an idea from scratch.

Somerset County Gazette:

Those taking part will join other female entrepreneurs in their area for three online learning sessions. They then have the potential to progress to ‘Nuts & Bolts’ workshops covering practical skills such as finding funding, marketing yourself, and how your work can make change — all developed specifically for women.

Women can apply for Nuts & Bolts until the 8 March deadline, and the course starts on 15 March.

Social enterprises aim to make a positive impact on society or the environment, in addition to generating valuable income. Their profits are reinvested back into the business or community.

The Accelerating Women’s Enterprise programme aims to help women increase their knowledge and personal skills to start and grow successful businesses. 

Applications for Sofa Sessions and Nuts & Bolts are welcomed from people who identify as women from an initial idea stage to early trading. 

The course is funded by Somerset County Council and the European Union. YTKO are leading the Accelerating Women’s Enterprise (AWE) programme in Hampshire and across the South West, funded by the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme.

The AWE programme has supported over 700 women living on both sides of the English Channel to create businesses of their own over the last three years. 

Many of the participants have faced economic, social, and environmental challenges before joining the courses.

Dirk Rohwedder, Associate Director, School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), says:

“This is such a popular programme in the South West, we’re delighted to extend it to women entrepreneurs in Somerset. We’ll help them develop ideas, products and services that address social and environmental challenges."

Previous AWE participants include Sarah Nuttall-Worsley, who has set up Invigorate Nutrition Club, offering funded wellness evaluations, goal setting and personalised nutrition.

Emily, who was helped by AWE to launch Emily Cockle Consultancy Ltd, says: “The funded mentoring and training support was key to me as a new start-up. I thought it beneficial to begin building contacts with other women, who although not within the same industry as me, are facing similar challenges and dilemmas.”

Mirella Ferraz attended an SSE  ‘Trade Up’ (Accelerator) course in the South West:

“If you have an idea that you truly believe in, then start your project no matter how many question marks you might have around it."

“We weren’t so focused before I started the programme, so it’s really helped us refine and improve our offering.”

AWE is supported by the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme, and is co-created and delivered by YTKO, The School for Social Entrepreneurs and SSE Hampshire.