The Dependants' Business Start-Up Programme, at the University of Wolverhampton was launched in June last year, and was one of the successful bids to the £35 million LIBOR fund made available by the Prime Minister.
The project has now received a significant investment of £600,000 from HSBC to expand the programme throughout the UK and overseas. The Ministry of Defence has given an extra £120,000, giving an overall funding boost of £720,000 of LIBOR fines to support the expansion in the next phase.
The unique 10 month business start-up programme has been specifically tailored to meet the needs of Armed Forces families and is delivered by the University of Wolverhampton’s Business Solutions Centre in partnership with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.
The original funding of over £200,000 enabled the University to develop and deliver a course to up to 180 Service dependants, providing them with the transferable skills and support required to build a business that would not be restricted to a geographical area.
The additional funding, which was announced by David Cameron this week, will mean an extra 500 Service dependants will be able to take part.
Helen Lloyd Wildman, University of Wolverhampton Registrar and Secretary at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We are delighted that there have been so many success stories from the Dependents’ Business Start-Up Programme and that it is set to continue. It really has exceeded our expectations.
“The programme ties in with our vision as the ‘University of Opportunity’, allowing service families to become more financially stable, better skilled, while creating successful new businesses. As a veteran myself, I understand the complexities of Army life and the challenges they bring not just to the serving soldier or officer but to their families too.
“At the University of Wolverhampton, we recognise those challenges and we are dedicated to going that extra mile to remove barriers to study and to provide military students and their families with every opportunity to pursue their educational goals and to realise their ambitions.”
The University’s Armed Forces Co-ordinator, Lianne Bradbury, an Army Veteran of 22 years’ service, said: “The Armed Forces Covenant is about making sure we do all we can for those who make sacrifices in the Defence of our country. The University of Wolverhampton is committed to fulfilling its pledge to the Armed Forces Covenant, we understand that Service families live an extremely mobile lifestyle and many do not have the opportunity to gain a structured career and settle in to a local community.
“I am delighted that the funding boost will ensure that we can continue to support Service families in setting up a business and enable us to expand the programme throughout the UK and overseas.”
Simon Martin, Head of Global Corporate Sustainability, HSBC said: "We're proud to support the spouses and dependants of Armed Forces personnel in UK, Cyprus and Germany through our new three-year sponsorship of the Armed Forces Dependants' Business Start-Up Programme.
“HSBC is an Armed Forces Covenant signatory and is committed to supporting the Armed Forces community."
One of the people who has already benefitted from the Dependants’ Business Start-Up Programme is Sally Wagstaff (case study and photograph attached). Her husband, Captain Neil Wagstaff (RN), serves with the Royal Navy Medical Services.
Sally enrolled on the first cohort of the programme in October 2013 and since completing the course she has opened a state of the art laser hair removal clinic in Lichfield.
Sally said: “The programme has given me the confidence and knowledge to understand how to approach my business and with the help from my business mentor I successfully secured the funding I needed to acquire premises and equipment. I am now the proud Company Director of Xodos Aesthetics Limited and I cannot praise the programme enough.”
The Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The Armed Forces Covenant is about making sure we do all we can for those who make sacrifices in defence of this country. Of course, that means doing right by members of the Armed Forces but it is also about their families - who do so much behind the scenes supporting our service men and women and are too often the unsung heroes.
“That is why I am delighted with the University of Wolverhampton’s initiative, supported by HSBC, to empower Service families to launch their own businesses and pleased that we are committing a further £120,000 of LIBOR fines to expand the programme in the UK and overseas.”
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “Our Armed Forces and their families give so much to our country, so it is only right that we ensure they are supported as much as possible. The success of these schemes demonstrates our commitment to listening to our people and helping them to enjoy the kind of domestic stability that many of us take for granted.
“It also means that we are delivering on the promises set out in Armed Forces Covenant - ensuring that no member of personnel or their families are disadvantaged by the contribution and sacrifice they make for their Service.”
For more information please contact Vickie Warren in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736