My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

After-work programme launches to help valleys businesses grow

A fully funded after-work programme designed to support people into starting businesses is set to launch in Merthyr and Ebbw Vale.

The 5 to 9 Club™ aims to support individuals with an idea and help them turn it into a fully fledged business by equipping them with the skills and knowledge they will need to launch and grow. The workshops are held once a week from 5pm to 9pm, to allow those who work full time to gain the experience and support needed to grow their business idea without taking the risk of giving up full-time employment.

The clubs are a key part of the Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise’s (ICE) outreach programme, as it looks to connect with potential business founders across south east Wales.

The 8-week course features a series of workshops where attendees can develop their idea, supported by entrepreneurs who have been through the startup process and now manage businesses of their own.

Each week is hosted by a different expert who guides participants through different aspects of starting a business, from developing their business plan right through to launching and even seeking investment.

The programme is open to anyone and the workshops start from the 27 March at the General Office’s in Ebbw Vale, and on the 07 May at Mtec in Merthyr.

Outreach Engagement Manager, Lesley Williams said anyone who has an idea for a business but isn’t sure where to start, should apply: “Since taking ICE on tour through our outreach work I’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm and desire for our support. Coming from the Valleys myself, I already knew how much potential the area has, but there’s a real sense of opportunity there that just isn’t promoted enough.

“So many people have ‘side-gigs’ that they do to try and earn a bit of extra cash. From baking and selling cakes to making wedding flowers and crafts, people are engaging in enterprise without realising it. Ultimately, this is the only way we are going to revitalise the valleys, by growing ourselves back to prosperity. When more people are starting businesses and taking control of their own income, the jobs and local economies will follow. But it all has to start somewhere, and that’s why I would encourage anyone who has an idea, no matter how big or small, to get in touch with us and see if we can help them realise their dream.”

Welsh ICE is one of five regional enterprise hubs across Wales, all funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The hubs will see over £4m invested to provide supportive spaces and mentoring for new and growing businesses, with the ICE Campus supporting the South East Wales Valleys region.

For more information about your local 5 to 9 Club™ contact Lesley on [email protected] or call 02920 140 040