Social enterprise start-up wins The Big Venture Challenge Award

Patchwork People set to turn its business into a franchise

The Darlington-based social-minded business Patchwork People was yesterday announced as The Big Venture Challenge Award winner.

Founded in 2011 by Gill Walker and backed by The Big Lottery, the company specialises in providing a  training and development provision for young people.

After operating from market stalls at festivals and events originally, the company landed its first shop in October 2011 and has since gone on to help more than 70 young people.Through training qualifications and the chance to gain important experience in a real working environment, Patchwork people aims to provide young people with the necessary skills to succeed in future employment or business.

The first intake created and developed the brand Labelled, which re-sells designer clothes and accessories.

Selected from thousands of UK social enterprises the business will receive support and specialist advice to attract potential investors and any funding raised will be matched by up to £100,000 by the Big Venture Challenge in grants and soft loans.

After already working on a franchise expansion plan, the social development business plans to capitalise on the award win by rolling out its franchise strategy.

Walker has been working closely with The Franchise Company to fine tune the business model and is confident that Patchwork People and its brand, Labelled, offers a great social franchise opportunity.

Commenting on the win, she said:

“This award could not have come at a better time.

“Our aim is to build on the success of the Darlington enterprise and open another 15 social enterprise ventures across the UK in the next three years.

“We plan to replicate our unique, high street presence to enable many more young people to enjoy success. The Big Venture Challenge award will help us to attract the investment we need to achieve this aim.”


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