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Lewisham College has become a founding partner of Visionnaires, a not-for-profit organisation with the potential to help thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs across the UK.

Visionnaires provides free courses for people wanting to start their own business or become self-employed, which include workshops, seminars, resources, support and advice.

Figures* show that:

  • Nearly two-thirds of UK adults want to set up their own business
  • 83 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds dream of self-employment
  • More than 650,000 start-ups were founded in the UK from 2019-20
  • Start-ups have created 40 per cent of new jobs in the UK.

Visionnaires has already helped more than 400 entrepreneurs from many diverse backgrounds start new businesses, with 96 per cent of participants endorsing the programme as ‘excellent’.

Participants take part in practical workshops and receive expert advice and resources on topics including marketing, selling, finance and business planning. They can also promote their business in the Marketplace section of the Visionnaires website and continue to receive support and resources from Visionnaires indefinitely.

Visionnaires also runs workshops to inspire entrepreneurship among young people.

Nicolas and Julia Vendramin, launched their fashion business LABELL-D after receiving advice and support from Visionnaires. The company sells collections from top designers made from recycled and sustainable materials.

Nicolas, 40, who previously worked for fashion houses including Hugo Boss, Bally and Harrys of London, said: “The fashion industry is very polluting in its nature and we wanted to do something about that. We’ve always been passionate about sustainable living and decided to set-up our own company to sell sustainable fashion.

“As I’ve always worked in big companies and thought big too – 10 steps ahead – but Wendy, my Visionnaires tutor, brought me down to earth and reminded me that a new business has to start from zero. The six-week course she taught was very pragmatic and helped me focus on the basics and get them right first. It was also great to learn with other entrepreneurs.”

Asfa Sohail, Principal at Lewisham College, said: “Lewisham College is proud to become a partner of Visionnaires and offer the residents of Lewisham even more opportunity to access education, skills and training to pursue their business ideas.

“As part of NCG, we support its vision to enable social mobility through exceptional education and the launch of this programme will not only develop the talents and ideas of those within the Lewisham community, but will lead to real impact on our local economy too.”

Visionnaires’ CEO is social entrepreneur Pablo Lloyd OBE. He said: “We’ve been running Visionnaires in partnership with CCCG for the past two years where we have seen a lot of demand and very encouraging feedback from participants. We have now developed a rich ecosystem of support for people who want to start their own business or become self-employed.

“Over the past year, a number of other colleges expressed an interest in working with Visionnaires, and off the back of that, I am delighted the programme is now available with 12 colleges, to enable many more people in their communities to fulfil their entrepreneurial hopes and dreams and contribute to their local economy. We are now in discussion with other colleges across the UK to reach even more budding entrepreneurs.”

Visionnaires was originally founded within Capital City College Group (CCCG) in 2019, with United Colleges Group, South Thames Colleges Group and NCG joining to form a community interest company in August this year.

CCCG already runs programmes through City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing) and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), and its apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training (CCCT).

The new partner college groups are now rolling out programmes at eight further colleges including Lewisham College, with the aim of encouraging entrepreneurship in their communities and growing local economies.

Find out more about Visionnaires at www.visionnaires.ac.uk

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