National Small Business Day: Supporting the Community
We’re celebrating National Small Business Day on Tuesday 10 May by showcasing our small businesses at Innovation Connect. John Ryder, based in our Technopole centre is the founder of community interest company, ECASS.
The idea behind the company is that Every Charitable Act Supports Someone (ECASS). John set up the company to try and help give something back to our communities, with the aim to provide benefits to a variety of individuals in and around Portsmouth and Hampshire. Men, women, students, young people, small businesses, and local community centres can all get support with issues ranging from alcohol and drug awareness, tenant or landlord advice, debt support, career empowerment, mental health, IT and social media support for business start-ups, and much more.
ECASS has a number of new innovative projects including an IT equipment donation programme called “Electric Avenue” where people donate their old laptops, printers, mobiles, tablets etc so that they can be donated to good causes or used in workshops around the Portsmouth area. Other projects include a community graffiti street art project, and a new 12-week intervention support programme called, ‘I’m Still Standing’. There is also a regular podcast show run by the team and service users called ‘The Life Lounge’ featuring community members talking about their struggles and how they have overcome them in order to inspire and help others.
Individuals with life experience are welcome to take part in volunteering opportunities within ECASS, and John has noted the number of inspiring people he has met along the way when starting up his business. The time he spent at the University of Portsmouth proved valuable, particularly the support from the Student Start-Up team and Innovation Connect where he was able to network with others. Additional support from Santander, social workers, youth workers, community centre managers, friends, family and local businesses have also added top value to his learning experience.
John said: “My words of support to anyone thinking of setting up a business and wanting to make a difference are; to not be scared to get things wrong. ECASS is what it is today because I learned things along the way and did get things wrong sometimes. It's our mistakes that make us and our business wiser, stronger and more efficient.
“Secondly, take yourself out of your comfort zone. Network as much as you can because even just one contact you make can create a ripple in the business world and turn into a fantastic wave of change for all around you. The smallest difference makes the biggest.”
Innovation Connect provides office, co-working, and meeting space as well as business services for a range of local businesses, from start-ups to more established companies across four centres in Portsmouth.