There’s an enterprising life after the dole queue

A Tunstall couple’s new business is booming – just two years after they were both left without jobs.

Andrew Fisher was unemployed for six months before enrolling on the Stoke-on-Trent City Council funded Test Trading scheme to help the city’s jobless start up their own business.

The 38-year-old, who runs motor electronic control unit supply business ECU-Express with his wife Sarah, is now looking to expand and take on extra staff as turnover increases by 30 per cent.

Andrew said

The programme really was a turning point for me and I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help of the councilfunded scheme.

It gave me the skills and confidence to start up my own business and I haven’t looked back since. We are now looking to expand and take on staff.

Test Trading is funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and run by Business Initiative, part of the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It provides a 13-week course coaching and mentoring individuals in setting up their own business.

Jill Levens, of Business Initiative, which delivers the scheme, said:

We have had some excellent businesses start through this programme which provides both a safety net to enable individuals to sign off benefits early and the training to help retain a very high survival rate of over 90 per cent after the first year of trading.

We are delighted ECU-Express are doing so well and wish them every success.

The scheme has been run for the past three years, supporting around 30 individuals a year while also offering funding to support the first 13 weeks of new businesses set up through the project.

The project is now looking for more individuals to take part and is due to start in April.

Cllr Mark Meredith, Stoke-OnTrent City Council cabinet member for economic development, said

There are many reasons why unemployed people would want to start up their own business but may not have the funds or skills to support that dream.

Test Trading not only boosts the city economy by creating extra jobs but keeps important skills and opportunities here in the city.

Have Your Say