Building resilience for local businesses over lockdown
As many local businesses have had to close their doors again due to the current lockdown across the UK, it’s a sad fact that a lot will still be recovering from the previous lockdown earlier this year, where months of closure caused inevitable loss of trade and income. In the summer, in order to support small businesses local to our East London centre in Hackney, our programme manager Alex adapted our successful free Grow Your Business programme to directly address Covid-related loss of trade and ran it online.
Participants got expert advice in legal issues, HR, finance, strategy, marketing, productivity and coaching, with intensive and flexible 1-to-1 mentor support – through 17 workshops all delivered within one month. Two month-long programmes were run between May and July, and the cohort were able to form a tight-knit and supportive peer community, whilst learning practical skills such as how to take their business online, or to navigate a huge decrease in income. The intensive programmes were tailored so that every session related to how business owners might overcome the effects of lockdown and re-launch for their community – in the best way possible.
Alex Potter, Programme Manager in East London, explained: “It was clear that we needed to address the urgent situation faced by so many local businesses that were directly affected by lockdown and the Covid-19 crisis. Whereas our usual focus is around growth and job creation, this time it was more about safeguarding businesses and employees, and the prevention of revenue loss. I was really pleased with the help and support we were able to give and look forward to continuing to work with some of the businesses on an ongoing basis”.
As always with our Grow Your Business programmes, the majority of the cohort were female founders, who were joined by other ‘under-served entrepreneurs’ such as migrant and BAME entrepreneurs plus local business owners.
Over 23 businesses were supported through the two programmes, and the positive feedback speaks for itself – with a great range of comments about how personal and tailored the workshops were, to the benefit of strengthening local business links and peer support networks, and the energy and commitment of the whole team.
“Joining Allia was my saving grace during lockdown. I was about to close my business and call it a day. They have been the business encyclopedia for me! If they don’t know, they know someone who knows or someone who knows someone who knows.”
“Fantastic workshops and really relevant tailored support that has completely changed the way we do business – can’t recommend Alex highly enough!!”
“I have super awesome and kind feedback about this programme because professional support aside, the psychological uplift of the meetings is outstanding. Being a part of such a community with support in all levels one could need, especially during the lockdown where a lot of us were terribly affected, is meaningful for so many reasons.”