Business Launchpad – enabling young Elephant entrepreneurs

2018 Community Fund Winner Profile – Business Launchpad

Young entrepreneurs selling everything from cakes to art frames, wigs to vintage clothing got the chance to test their businesses in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre – thanks to a community enabling fund.

Business Launchpad – which supports young people aged 16-30 from deprived backgrounds across London who want to set up and run their own enterprises – won the grant from the Elephant and Castle Community Fund in 2018.

Business Launchpad offers a range of person-centred business guidance and support including workshops, business counselling, subsidised office space and peer-to-peer support.

Since the charity began in 1988, it has supported more than 6,000 young people, helping them to overcome barriers varying from lack of confidence, networks, time and finance, to earn revenue and test their business ideas.

Thanks to the grant, Business Launchpad delivered the youth-led test trading programme free of charge at the shopping centre over the Christmas period, where 10 young people, helped by another six peers, traded for a week. 

Hasmita Chavda, project development manager, explained: “This sort of grant is really important because it enabled us to help support young people so they could test out a slightly different model, a powerful peer-led model. Some of them made quite a lot of sales, some of them didn’t make any, but all of them found it valuable. It pushed them out of their comfort zone just having a place that forced them to learn really quickly about their product – how they sell themselves, what’s important to them, even how to set up a store.

“Beforehand, they had one-to-one business support where they looked at pitching, how to present their work, who they customers are and how to talk to them.

“Some of them are still accessing wellbeing and business support. Others have taken what they’ve learned and either paused their business, because they’ve realised that there’s a bit more they need to do and they’re in full-time employment, others have joined a more formal support programme within Business Launchpad, and others are still selling – taking it to the next stage.”

What is the Elephant and Castle Community Fund?

Delivered in partnership between Elephant Park developer Lendlease and Southwark Council, the fund – offering between £500 and £10,000 – supports a diverse range of projects and workshops in the area each year.

It was introduced in 2012 to help groups that benefit people who live, work and study within Elephant and Castle. Initially launched to support organisations during the regeneration of the area, the fund has continued every year since, thanks to continuing donations from Lendlease and Southwark Council.

Still to come in this series on the 2018 Community Fund winners are some exciting projects including the Blue Elephant Theatre and the Walworth Society.