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We’re The Growing Club CIC and welcome to our story. We’re a not-for-profit organisation, facilitating fantastic skills and business training, creating opportunities for women, using a creative and alternative proven model.
As a social enterprise we focus on bridging the gap in skills training and business education for women, with our pre-start up, start-up and business growth programmes specifically for women. Our aim is to support local economic growth for community wellbeing. In 2016 The Growing Club was founded by Jane Binnion. This is her story…
After 20 years as a youth and community worker and adult trainer, Jane Binnion was a single mum living on £80 a week ESA, because of a shoulder injury at work.
Worried they were going to lose their house Jane had to find a way to bring in an income by working from home. She trained in social media and in October 2010 started her first-ever business. Jane said:
Jane wanted to grow her business but found that the mentors she was offered didn’t understand the issues for a woman juggling business with a school age child and an elderly mum to care for. Increasingly Jane was working with women running small businesses and saw some common themes; isolation, working too many hours and getting nowhere fast and no capital. She gathered stories of local women running businesses and initiated a Lancashire-wide conference for women in business.
From there, looking for peer mentoring, Jane teamed up with Rachel Holme and they ran an experiment. In 2016 they asked for eight women to work with them as a group for a year on a female-focussed business growth programme. 10 women signed up and that was the start of The Growing Club. From there, we developed the social enterprise so we could work with unemployed women because we saw so much wasted skill and talent.
A Deloitte report of 2016 found that women are held back because of a lack of confidence, lack of belief in their business skills and lack of mentors and role models. Those are the issues we address here at the Women & Enterprise Hub.
The Growing Club believes in empowerment through education and training, building skills for women by women.
The Growing Club believes in creating a community of mutual support, accountability and collaboration.
The Growing Club believes in an ethical approach to sustainable business practice based on honesty, integrity and professionalism.
The Growing Club practices respect for self and others because all lives and dreams matter.
The Growing Club is a bold grass roots organisation, open to new ideas, and accountability to the community.
So much of our work only happens because of the fabulous volunteers who give their time. They are a big part our story.
We are run by 7 volunteer trustees, Jane Binnion, Lisa Corkerry, Christine Harwood, Mandy Blackwell, Lorraine Birch, Wendy Dickenson and Rachel Holme. Plus a team of fantastic volunteers who mentor the start-ups, help with admin, evaluate our work and fundraise.
The Growing Club is a Boost Business Lancashire partner and has received support from a great variety of funders, both locally and nationwide.
Our new website has been funded by Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA).
SIMRA is a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. SIMRA seeks to advance understanding of social innovation and innovative governance in agriculture, forestry and rural development, and how to boost them, particularly in marginalised rural areas across Europe and Mediterranean region.
Part of the SIMRA project at Lancaster University Management School is to intellectually and financially support a start up Innovation Action (that is, social innovations and enterprises) set up to empower marginalised individuals within their communities who have decided to come together to develop solutions to their struggling local economy.
The Innovation Action chosen by SIMRA is the Growing Club due to its mission to coach women entrepreneurs from socially disadvantaged backgrounds who have been overlooked or dismissed by local business support services due to their personal and geographical marginalisation.