Belfast City Council Celebrates Success Of First Inclusive Entrepreneurship Focused Programme

A fully-funded programme designed to support pre and early stage entrepreneurs experiencing additional barriers to enterprise, concluded with a celebratory event at Belfast City Hall recently.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A fully-funded programme designed to support pre and early stage entrepreneurs experiencing additional barriers to enterprise, concluded with a celebratory event at Belfast City Hall recently.

15 Belfast residents benefited from the enhanced mentoring programme, designed and delivered by The Mind Tribe UK on behalf of Belfast City Council. 87% of the programme participants have a disability or a long-term health condition, 53% of participants identify as neurodivergent, and 93% of participants identify as women or non-binary.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Speaking about the programme’s success, Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “The Inclusive Enterprise Pathway programme gets results because it’s tailored to focus on encouraging people from historically under-represented, under-supported and under-funded groups into entrepreneurship.

Stephanie McKittrick, Katie Matthews-Furphy, Lord Mayor Ryan Murphy, Wendy O'Doherty and Rupa JainStephanie McKittrick, Katie Matthews-Furphy, Lord Mayor Ryan Murphy, Wendy O'Doherty and Rupa Jain
Stephanie McKittrick, Katie Matthews-Furphy, Lord Mayor Ryan Murphy, Wendy O'Doherty and Rupa Jain

“They’ve learned vital skills in cash flow forecasting, networking, identifying their business vision, mission, and values – they’ve built confidence, resilience, and developed a growth mindset. They’ve also each received £500 to help them set up their business, as one of the main barriers to enterprise is start-up capital and access to finance.

“All the guest speakers they’ve learned from have lived enterprise experience, and share commonalities with the programme participants. That makes them relatable, influential, and important role models. I wish everyone who’s completed our Inclusive Enterprise Pathway programme the very best of luck on their enterprise journey – because as part of our Belfast Agenda, we want all our residents to have access to the tools and support they need to fulfil their potential.”

Katie Matthews-Furphy, multi-award-winning disabled entrepreneur and founder of Mind Tribe UK, said the programme had been specifically designed for those needing extra support for their businesses.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“All mentees experience additional barriers to enterprise,” she explained.

“This programme has supported them in raising their entrepreneurial aspirations, developing their business idea and most mentees have now started operating their businesses.

“The aim was to raise entrepreneurial aspirations for people who may not have previously considered enterprise as a viable career pathway, people who would like to, or are considering working for themselves, or people who may have a very early-stage business idea and don't know where to go for support.

“We wanted to make sure we created a highly visible and easily accessible pathway to enterprise, for people who have been under-represented, under-supported and under-funded in entrepreneurship.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jacqueline Winstanley, co-founder of The Disabled Entrepreneurs Network, founder of Universal Inclusion and Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Inclusive Entrepreneurship was also delighted to join the celebration event and said: “I am delighted to be part of this initiative which celebrates the untapped potential of individuals who face barriers to creating enterprise.”

The Inclusive Enterprise Pathway programme comprised 10 hours of group activity workshops, 10 hours of one-to-one mentoring, and a series of inspiration sessions with guest speakers Azhar Murtuza, founder of Born Maverick, Gemma McAllister, founder of WearMatter, James Ayo, founder of HotBox Entertainment and YUC CIC, and Tina Calder, chief vision officer of Excalibur Press, sharing their own entrepreneurship experiences as relatable role models.

A range of in-house workshops was also delivered with organisations such as Newington Day Centre, Ulster University, Queen's University Belfast, Raise Ventures, Workforce Training Services, The Parent Rooms, and Women in Business NI.

Jennifer Cairns, founder of Lady Rebel Club and Rebel World Ltd delivered the keynote speech entitled #NoMoreHiding. A neurodivergent entrepreneur who experiences disability, Jennifer is passionate about inclusion and diverse representation in enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dr Nisha Tandon OBE, founder of ArtsEkta, spoke of her experience of piloting an inclusive enterprise programme specifically targeting women from ethnic minority and/or global majority backgrounds; and disabled entrepreneur Michael Holden MBE, shared how he has used his lived experience to provide an innovative solution to accessible toilets and facilities for disabled individuals through his hire business Accessoloo.

Since September 2023, Inclusive Enterprise Pathway has delivered workshops to 150 Belfast residents, with over 900 Digital Badges awarded.

Further virtual workshops are available for Belfast residents aged 18+ to book at: themindtribeuk.podia.com/inclusiveenterprisepathway and for more information on Belfast City Council’s support for businesses, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/business