Over 100 female entrepreneurs that have been impacted by the pandemic will be given free space to sell their products in the city's main shopping centre.
Milton Keynes Council has partnered with the Love Local Hub, a store located in the centre:mk, to give business owners the opportunity to use a space temporarily to showcase their products or services.
Along with the space, entrepreneurs are given mentoring so they can regain their confidence and bounce back after a difficult 15 months.
Customers have responded positively to boutique store and on average spend £19 each to support the entrepreneurs.
Over 100 businesses have been supported so far with many reopening properly online and with the ambition to open in their own premises in the future.
Milton Keynes Council is investing £35,000 to support the programme as part of its £2.25m COVID Economic Recovery Plan.
Funding space in the shop for two months, an eight-week business bootcamp, ongoing support via a retail business growth Facebook Support Group and ongoing engagement through regular friendly meetups.
To celebrate the council funding 50 small business bootcamps & free retail space in the store, the Love Local Hub is inviting other budding entrepreneurs to come and spend the evening with them to celebrate. There will be an opportunity to support the 65 independent businesses currently occupying the store from 5pm on 24 June.
The Love Local Hub is part of the council’s commitment to helping women get back into work, as research suggests they’ve been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and are almost twice as likely as men to lose their jobs through the crisis.
One business Carleys Candle Company is a new start-up based in MK with a desire to grow nationally – with the oppurtunity in the Hub sold £1400 worth of handmade candles in just one week.
The Hub has ambitions to widen its offer and run a development programme for both new businesses and those looking to expand. The course will cover all aspects of business training, including budgeting and marketing.
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Cllr Robin Bradburn, said: “The Love Local Hub is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to use a dedicated space while they get back on their own feet.
"The pandemic has left a lot of people struggling and we know women and particularly those in the retail sector have had it the toughest. I’d encourage businesses who think they could benefit to take up this offer so we can continue to grow our local economy.”
Founder, Samantha Poole said: “As a single mum with a start-up and a scale up business I know first-hand how hard it is to set up a business with limited or no business support. Returning to work was not an option for me due to high childcare fees and having two children who need extra care and support.
"Hearing how the course and the Love Local Hub shop is helping our small businesses and women in business, is making me do a happy dance most days. We all need a great mentor and if we want more than two out of ten small businesses to survive beyond three years, then we need to hold many more of our Business Bootcamp's for our local small businesses.”
Innes Dalle Palle who attended a bootcamp session said: “I loved the meet up so far - all very informative, open for suggestions for your business of any kind and very collaborative. I have much more confidence than before since I feel surrounded by people who want to genuinely help and support my development. Thank you for believing in us.”
Please email email@example.com if you would like more information on the Love Local store or the business courses.