The next generation of Brixton business moguls hatch a plan to help their community

Lambeth residents know their borough is teeming with ambitious entrepreneurs, whether they are creating the apps of the future or running the restaurants and bars that bring millions of people here to eat, drink and have fun.

Now, however, 50 business-minded young adults have been given a helping hand at the Impact Hub in Brixton.

The event, StartUP Brixton, was designed to show them how to turn their passions into profit and was open to any young person with an existing business or who wanted to learn more about becoming the next business mogul.

In total, eight workshops were on offer, each dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs develop the skills and networks to start or grow their own business.

This was the second time that the organisers, Hatch Enterprise, had brought this event to Pop Brixton. Hatch, an enterprise charity based in the district, has been supporting entrepreneurs aged18-30 in Lambeth since 2013. Its mission is to work with people from underrepresented and underserved group to grow smart ideas into successful and sustainable companies that help their communities.

With support from funders such as the Walcot Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund, Hatch runs programmes through an ecosystem of support including knowledge, mentorship and workspace.

The charity has worked with more than 500 entrepreneurs in south London, of which 65% came from minority ethnic backgrounds, 55% were female and 63% were aged.

In addition to their flagship programmes, which range from six weeks to six months, Hatch runs a variety of workshops and events designed to improve entrepreneurs’ skills and help grow their networks for support and collaboration.

Speaking to entrepreneurs, we often hear that they ‘have to make it on their own’,” said Dirk Bischoff, CEO of Hatch. “There is a particular need for young people to access a community full of support and guidance when starting their entrepreneurial journey.”

This month, 10 ambitious young entrepreneurs from Lambeth are embarking on Hatch’s latest Incubator programme. It culminates in a pitching event in which participants pitch to a Dragons’ Den-style panel for the chance to win investment.

The support is hands-on and “personal to your business need”, said Timi Merriman-Johnson, who went through Hatch’s idea stage programme earlier this year and will be part of this Incubator cohort.

Lambeth resident Timi, 28, runs an online subscription marketplace called Lunr, which allows individuals to buy and manage subscriptions.

He came up with the idea after realising that he was still paying for a gym membership six months after cancelling it and said he liked the scheme because of the network it provided.

You can ask questions, seek advice and rub shoulders with other entrepreneurs who are facing the same challenges as you. My experience so far has been invaluable.”

Another Young Lambeth resident, Teleana Isaac, 27, has turned her passion for baking cupcakes into a small l business. She joined the Incubator to better understand how Teleana’s Treats can utilise online platforms for sales.

I know the importance of marketing and social media but have struggled with using it to its full potential to engage new customers,” she said.

All of the businesses will have some impact on the community, whether through jobs, profits or the spread of vital opportunities.

Jacqueline Gomes-Neves, 22, has joined the Incubator to develop her social enterprise, World Women, which focuses on mentoring and developing the next generation of female leaders. The former Lambeth youth mayor sought out the programme to help “develop a more sustainable business model to ensure that World Women can go onto inspire and develop thousands of girls and women across the world.”

Another young female founder, Naomi Grant, is the 20-year-old founder of LAMBB, a collective of creatives that seek to redefine images of black and brown people in the media. The entrepreneur turned to Hatch to achieve greater knowledge about how to run a company.

Thus far I have struggled with the business side,” says Naomi. “As I am the founder and the main force behind the company there isn’t really anyone to go to when I need help or advice. This is why the mentor aspect of the programme is particularly interesting for me.”

A few of the individuals have turned to Hatch to support them through expanding their businesses.

Dennis Boateng’s recycling company, In-Use Reuse, manages the collection, organisation and disposal of pallets and wood waste within Brixton Market.

He is currently in the process of extending the wood waste collection to local businesses in the borough. “Our business model is under the circular economy which advocates that products, packaging, wood and various materials have an afterlife, supporting environmental policies and lowering waste accumulated in the UK,” says Boateng, 29.

“It is a really exciting time for the start up scene in South London”, says Lisa Wilson, Hatch’s Young Enterprise programme manager. “Lambeth is home to such a wealth of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. We have seen through our programmes that there are so many innovative and exciting ideas that young people are bringing to life.”

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