A social enterprise company based in Flintshire is thriving after receiving support from the Welsh Government’s business support service, Business Wales, and has been shortlisted for a national award.
Established in 2015 by director Sue Oliver and business partner and life partner, Sarah, RainbowBiz helps to promote equality and diversity within Wales.
Although originally starting the company with a different concept, RainbowBiz gradually evolved into a support hub for socially isolated or vulnerable people and, after 12 months of struggling on its own with no advice or guidance, it was referred to Business Wales by Flintshire County Council and introduced to business adviser, Carole Williams. Carole worked very closely with RainbowBiz to secure a start-up grant and also assisted the business with setting up HMRC payroll and exploring ways to ensure a constant cashflow.
RainbowBiz was recently shortlisted in the National Diversity Awards and made it to final eight.
Sue, who is a strong advocate of equal opportunities, said: “Business Wales gave us the opportunity to engage with an experienced business adviser who could help us overcome issues and provide financial guidance. Having people around to guide you, who have done it, is invaluable, and Carole in particular was great as she came to us for meetings, sometimes at short notice, which was always very appreciated.
“The scariest challenge we faced was going to the point of incorporation and legalising everything. The journey has made our links with the County Council stronger and we now have good standing in the local community.”
Speaking about the success in the National Diversity Awards, Sue, who has Multiple Sclerosis, said: “It was such an honour to be involved with the awards and achieve the success we did. The ceremony itself was fantastic as it was a room full of diverse, like-minded people and we made some very positive business contacts. Our volunteers have never been to an event like it and were absolutely delighted to be invited along.”
The business has also launched a number of community-based projects to support a diverse range of individuals, including mind-body-spirit craft fairs, ‘Flintshire Flicks’, a programme of affordable cinema experiences for families, running a ‘Hippy’ stall at local markets, and organising Flintshire Gay Pride, amongst others.
These events are staffed by volunteers from the local community, including socially isolated and vulnerable individuals, providing valuable employability skills and work experience, whilst also empowering and inspiring them to engage with and to contribute to their community.
Rainbow Biz is extensively supported by its local community, including local and regional councillors, and they recently have been approached by Lord Barry Jones, who has requested to become their Patron.
Sue said: “We have wonderful support from our volunteers who come from all walks of life and end up working with us for all kinds of reasons. We are here to help empower them to put on events themselves.
“It has been phenomenal working with Business Wales and being part of a support network which gives you the confidence to be able to achieve your goals. We only wish we’d engaged with them earlier.”
RainbowBiz’s top 5 tips for anyone else starting up their own business would be:
- Seek advice from as many people as you can digest it from
- Be organised – carry a diary!
- Use social media to your advantage as it is really powerful
- Network with other like-minded organisations
- Celebrate your staff and volunteers
Business Wales, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government,supports the sustainable growth of small and medium size enterprises across the country by offering access to information, guidance and business support.
To find out how Business Wales can help start or develop your business, call 03000 6 03000, follow @_businesswales or @_busnescymru