Friday, April 27, 2018

EntreComp Into Action; A User Guide Launches!

For many years, as an organisation, we have worked all across the world and in particular across Europe. Taking part in projects that span countries and help us build relationships with other organisations who have similar missions and visions. This year has been no different as we have been working on producing ‘EntreComp into Action: Get Inspired and Make It Happen’ – a user guide for ‘EntreComp’, the entrepreneurship competence framework developed by The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

The JRC, the European Commissions’ science and knowledge service, commissioned The Women’s Organisation in partnership with Bantani Education in Brussels and TAKK Studio in Italy, to carry out this exciting piece of work!

The team created a fascinating and hefty resource which is a deep dive into the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework and provides a user’s guide on how to foster entrepreneurial learning. 

Access EntreComp into Action HERE!

‘EntreComp into Action aims to inspire more actors from across Europe and beyond to get involved, to join a community of practitioners committed to embedding these competences for life into education, communities, work and enterprise.’

So, what is EntreComp?
EntreComp is a comprehensive, flexible and multi-purpose reference framework designed to help you understand what is meant by entrepreneurship as a key competence for lifelong learning and to be able to use this in your work.’

By defining 15 key competences, grouped in 3 areas: Ideas & opportunities; Resources; and Into action, EntreComp helps to create a shared understanding of the knowledge, skills and attributes that make up what it means to be entrepreneurial,

…discovering and acting upon opportunities and ideas, and transforming them into social, cultural, or financial values for others.

In short, EntreComp is for anyone! ‘EntreComp can be used by different actors and is relevant to those interested and working in formal education, non-formal learning and inclusion activities as well as in organisations and businesses of all sizes.’

The user guide, EntreComp Into Action, comprises over 70 case studies and examples of how educators, policy makers and entrepreneurs are applying EntreComp.  It provides an exciting look at what it means to be ‘entrepreneurial’ in today’s world.

The guide provides an introduction to the EntreComp framework and some top tips for getting started for those new to it, as well as detailed descriptions of potential learning outcomes for each of the competences for those applying the framework in a learning environment. 

The case studies and examples are categorised in 2 ways, by domain – your area of work, and by goal – what you want to achieve.  This means that you can easily navigate the resource and read those examples relevant to you, whether you’re working in formal education and want to appraise and assess learners’ work; or if you work within an organisation and interested in the impact of entrepreneurial development activities.

One example of how EntreComp can be applied and put into practice is a case study of The Women’s Organisation client Ngunan Adamu, Founder and Director of iWoman media and iWoman Academy. Ngunan explained that ‘EntreComp inspired iWoman Academy to enhance its innovative training programme for women’ through helping participants to appraise and appreciate their current levels of entrepreneurship competence and to inform their future plans.

With great visuals to help explain and share the notion of entrepreneurship competences and practical examples of how to apply the framework the guide is a useful resource for anyone interested in entrepreneurship.

EntreComp into Action is one magnificent feat! And at The Women’s Organisation and Enterprise Evolution we are delighted to have worked on this project and make it possible!

If you want to learn more about EntreComp into Action you can access it HERE! So, give it a read and see how you can develop your own entrepreneurial competencies.

If you would like access to a Chinese translation of the user guide, you can read it here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

🍾 Celebrating Local Businesses At Excelerate Labs 'Celebration of Success' Awards 2018

Over the past couple of years Excelerate Labs have been hard at work supporting business growth in Greater Manchester, so it was about time to take a step back and celebrate the diverse reach of businesses we have had the privilege of working with in the region by honoring them in our Excelerate Labs 'Celebration of Success' awards.

The Excelerate Labs ‘Celebration of Success’ awards gave us a chance to hear about some fantastic achievements but also hear about how each business has well and truly flourished in their industry. The event also identified some of the top businesses creating economic growth and job opportunities who have benefited from the programme. 

Helen Millne, Deputy CEO at The Women’s Organisation kicked off the dinner awards with a speech highlighting the importance of business growth and how all the businesses in the room were a huge inspiration to other smaller local businesses wanting to grow. Our hosts for the event Mike Marsden, Programme Manager and Ameena Ahmed, Business Growth Advisor from Excelerate Labs welcomed everyone into the fantastic space provided by The Albert Square Chop house before advising everyone a 3 course meal was about to be served (The most important part of the awards, of course) before we handed out our wonderfully locally sourced handcrafted awards made by Lost Heritage

The event celebrated the achievements of 11 businesses, all from various industries but all with one big thing in common, their drive and motivation to make a difference. Speaking to Sam Turner from Back on Track, a charity that enables disadvantaged adults to make lasting, positive changes in their lives, he said “It’s a lovely event, such a great atmosphere to watch everyone enjoy each others achievements. It’s also great to hear about the growth of other businesses."

This year, Back on Track will be expanding their outside catering enterprise to take on more volunteers but also create new jobs. Speaking about Excelerate Labs, Siobhan Pollitt, Chief Executive of Back on Track said, “It’s always great to have that opportunity to take a well needed step away and have someone else help guide in the thinking process… something which can only produce positive things.”

Siobhan Pollitt from Back on Track
We caught up with Janine Waters from Edge Theatre, a thriving arts centre, a charity working with homeless people, vulnerable adults and young people to use high quality arts to transform lives, and a café which is also a training centre for adults with learning disabilities. Janine picked up the award for Social Impact using the Arts commenting “Lovely event, absolutely loved it!”

This year Edge Theatre will be collaborating with The Booth Centre Company, a day centre that offers advice, activities and support to the homeless in Manchester to celebrate the 70th Birthday of the NHS. Speaking about the support she’d received from Excelerate Labs, she spoke highly of how the advice had been helpful on many levels and how Mike Marsden’s work around helping her understand SEO had come at the perfect time to increase their ranking on search engines.

Janine Waters from Edge Theatre

Delicious mains gone and sweet treats from Hey Little Cupcake being passed around, we spoke to We Are Invite, a vibrant & creative video production company based in the heart of Manchester, who were awarded for Video Production Business of The Year. We are Invite have been working with new clients giving them a chance to access great opportunities and will be looking into taking on their first employee this year, a big step for the business after working alone for 5 years. When asked about the ‘Celebration of Success’ they commented “It’s been nice, it’s so great to see everyone’s success and it’s been a pleasure to be a part of”.

We Are Invite collecting their award for Video Production Business of the Year

Catching up with Jo from Bikeright ltd, she said “Today was a great event, it’s such a great community of achievement and it’s also great to see so many businesses we know and how everyone has been connected through The Women’s Organisation” Jo & Liz, who picked up the award for Most effective campaigning for Greener transport have most recently merged with a London based group that will allow nationwide coverage of their services, something which they have only offered locally up to now. Speaking about Excelerate Labs, Jo commented “I think any advice is helpful for a business in the first stages of growth, it’s really tough to make a go at it so we really appreciated the support”

Jo & Liz from Bikeright!

All awards presented, Mike and Ameena closed the event by thanking everyone who took time out of their hectic working days to attend and invited everyone to stay and mingle with all the great industries in the room, and of course we couldn’t let everyone get away without a group photo!

Excelerate Labs: 'Celebration of Success' Winners

Congratulations to all of the winners at the Excelerate Labs 'Celebration of Success' Awards!

Big thank you to The Albert Square Chop House for hosting this wonderful event and providing great food and service, Thank you to Lost Heritage for the beautiful awards and of course thank you to all the businesses for making the day pretty special!

Thank you to David Read from Ministry of Housing, Communitues and local Government for supporting the event, and ongoing support of our programme making the growth and celebration of these businesses possible. 

Check out this lovely read about the event from Hey Little Cupcake! here 
Thank you for the Sweet Mini Cupcakes!

Hey Little Cupcake!

The full list of winners at our event:

Social Impact Using the Arts
Most Effective Campaigning/Greener Transport
Video Production Business of the Year
Commitment to People Development
Digital Marketing Business of the Year
Excellence in Customer Service
Environmental Business of the Year
Creative Industries Business of the Year
Making A Difference
 Best uses of Social Media
 Woman in Construction Business  

Follow us over on Twitter to see all the latest news and content from Excelerate Labs!

If you’d like to find out how we can support your Manchester based business – then get in touch with us today! For more information about the project please contact

The Women’s Organisation is proud to lead the way in innovative business growth support through our programme 'Excelerate Labs'.  The programme open to men and women running a business in a B2B sector will enable businesses in Greater Manchester to innovate, diversify and grow creating new jobs.

More about the event can be found in this article from the Manchester Gazette.

Friday, April 6, 2018

“I Fulfilled My Dreams And Made Them A Reality” says Jackie Williams of Ballroom Blitz

Not many people can immediately frame a redundancy as a positive opportunity, but Jackie Williams can, and did! And that business is…Ballroom Blitz! In her own words; ‘Ballroom Blitz offers adult dance classes, socials and events across the Wirral and Liverpool’ and is Jackie’s dream of a lifetime to run!

Prior to starting her own business Jackie worked as a Global Quality Specialist for industry giant; Unilever for almost 20 years but had always danced and had a passion for dancing and everything that it encompasses. ‘For many years I have been joking about retiring onto a cruise ship to teach Ballroom and Latin dancing! So, when my dance school offered the opportunity to qualify as a teacher, I took it!’

Coincidentally this coincided with Unilever offering voluntary redundancy and Jackie saw this as the opportunity she was waiting for; ‘to go and fulfil my dream and make it a reality!’ She told us that she is usually someone who is risk averse so making this decision was huge as the thought of not having a regular income was new and scary. ‘I got around this fear by taking a small part time job, so I had a base income.’

Now that Jackie had her idea she knew it was time to go and get some support and advice; ‘At first, I wrote down all of my ideas and possible venues for the classes and researched the competition that was out there. I also took the opportunity to get in touch with The Women’s Organisation.’ Jackie was paired with Senior Business Adviser; Claire Pedersen who helped her with all aspects of her business start up process.

‘At the start of the process I was extremely nervous as I was stepping out into the unknown. But the thought of this turned to be worse than the reality.’ With the support of Claire, and the courses that Jackie was able to access at The Women’s Organisation, with some hard work and a bit of time…Ballroom Blitz was up and running!

One of the hardest things for Jackie was finding a venue for these classes though, and she says that it took a lot more effort and was more challenging than she originally anticipated. ‘Through talking to lots of people and google searching I found the venues I now use, but since starting in July 2017 I have changed 2 of the 3 initial venues with positive results, so I’d say to others be prepared to change and be flexible in business!’

One of these changes is super recent, and Jackie let us know that as of April 16th 2018, 3 out of 4 of her weekly classes will now be held at Pensby Boys School; 'truly giving Ballroom Blitz an identity and a home!' 

Starting initially with 3 nights a week the business has grown and progressed so much that Jackie now runs 4 evenings each week as well as having a number of private clients! She says one of the things that is unique about Ballroom Blitz is that; ‘It’s social! Through offering social Ballroom and Latin dance classes this makes me unique as usually there is lots of focus on medals and competitions. Whereas my passion and mission is to spread the joy of dancing for social pleasure.’

It’s great to see Jackie living out her dreams of dancing and teaching dancing as a full time job, and at The Women’s Organisation we were delighted to support her with this. When we asked Jackie how she felt about what she had achieved so far she told us; ‘Words cannot really describe how I feel! I am immensely proud and thankful. I feel truly blessed for all the support I have had and I’m excited about the future.’

‘This is the happiest I have been in all my life!’

And isn’t that amazing to hear!? If you want to find out more about Jackie’s business; Ballroom Blitz, you can do by following the contact links below…

And if you’d like to turn your dreams into a reality, like Jackie did, and start your own business or become self-employed, then get in touch with us! Call us on 0151 706 8111 or email