Free advice, support and grants available for Bedfordshire businesses – sign up today

Bedfordshire business can grow with help from this free support scheme

New entrepreneurs are already on their way to realising their dreams through the programme, and matched funding.

Sophie Dean is one – she needed another income stream to support her passion. “I was an actor and found voiceover originally as a side hustle to keep working creatively when acting work was sparse,” she said.

Sophie provides voiceover narration for businesses worldwide – explainer videos, commercials, telephone messages and e-learning, and hopes to make it a full-time job by growing the business.

With Government money secured by Central Bedfordshire Council, a range of help is now available for start-up businesses. The scheme, which is designed to boost the local economy, is run through Wenta – a not-for-profit organisation.

As well as the advice, grants of between £300 and £3,000 are available to help business idea get off the ground.

Sophie’s story

Sophie liked the free training offered in the Wenta programme. “The advisors are great and really know their stuff. I was also interested in their networking events,” she says.

“I received a match-funded grant that I used towards voiceover coaching. The application wasn’t too tricky, there were some things I didn’t know how to fill out in the business plan but I got full support with that.

“The coaching I had was invaluable and I have learned techniques that I apply every day in my voiceover work. My yearly turnover has increased since having the coaching and I have more repeat clients.”


How does the scheme work?

Wenta has helped more than 83,000 businesses since 1983. It’s now working on behalf of Central Bedfordshire Council to deliver the Central Start Programme and has more than £55,000 to give away in one-off grants by the end of March.

It’s free to join and includes 1-2-1 advice, 12-hours of training and support and the chance to apply for a grant.

“Our business advisors have been there and got the tee-shirt,” says Georgina Wark, Head of Digital, Communication & Marketing at Wenta. “They are all independent advisors, who have been through the process of setting up their own businesses, so they understand.

“The beauty of that is that a new business start-up need not be alone, just having someone to talk it through with can be really helpful – starting out on your own can be a lonely thing.”

Georgina says the scheme is there for any kind of business – the single-parent wanting to run a part-time business from home in the evenings, someone ready to branch out as a sole trader or someone with a business idea they want to get off the ground.

All you need to do is read the criteria, register your interest and book your free 1-2-1 session with an advisor and they will talk you through everything you need to know.

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