Entrepreneurs receiving expert help to fix the future

Last Updated: 18 August 2021

13 August 2021

Budding entrepreneurs in Cumbria have been given a boost by taking part in a business start-up programme supported by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC). 

Future Fixers CIC, the organisation behind the initiative, is celebrating following the graduation of its latest group of fledgling business owners. 

The Future Fixers course provides skills that enable individuals to create profitable businesses which make a positive difference for the planet.  As well as the environmental focus, however, participants are given the opportunity to be coached and to develop their own personal resilience.

Several of those from the most recent cohort have gone on to launch their enterprises and others are well on the way to doing so. 

One of these is Chris Shepard, an experienced building surveyor, who now runs The Naked Build Co.

Chris Shephard of The Naked Build Co

Chris Shepard runs The Naked Build Co

Naked Build provide a wide range of outdoor "green" rooms that can be used for various purposes, from office hubs to yoga studios, and from workshops to playrooms.  The aim is to offer flexible space that is "immersed in nature".

"Six months ago, I had a good concept and a handful of ideas," Chris said.  "Since then, Future Fixers have helped me to hone my purpose and have given me a clear direction to drive my business forward." 

Gemma Wren, another former participant, also aims to help people appreciate the benefits of being in nature.

Gemma Wren of Nature's Gems

Gemma Wren runs Nature's Gems

Gemma previously worked for The National Trust, but now runs Nature’s Gems, a business offering wildlife experiences around South Cumbria and Morecambe Bay.  

"Business plans are already growing, and I’m working with partners to offer specific birding days. I’m also planning to trial nature photography and art workshops this summer," said Gemma. 

"It can be a steep learning curve, which is why the Future Fixers course was so good for helping me to formulate my thoughts and ideas into something cohesive.  I learned how to frame my business around my values and strengths, whilst working with others at the same stage of development meant I could share experiences with like-minded people."

Thanks to ongoing support from SLDC, co-founders and directors, Dave Brown and his wife, Karen Bentley-Brown, are now looking forward to welcoming a new group of future fixers on to their next course. 

"It’s been amazing to see the progress of those taking part," said Dave.  "Many turn up at the first session with just the seed of an idea.  But they leave knowing exactly what to do to build a business that can play a part in creating a kinder, greener, fairer world.  We can’t wait to do it all again."

Councillor Dyan Jones, Portfolio Holder for Climate Action and Biodiversity, said: “We have been tremendously impressed with Karen and Dave’s work through their Future Fixers programme and the enterprising individuals seeing their great ideas flourish. It is fantastic to see this project, with its accent on sustainable, environmentally friendly, creative ideas which benefit the community and provide work, supporting these often unique businesses start up and grow.”

Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure, said: ”Key priorities for South Lakeland District Council are providing support and advice to new business start-ups and promoting the green economy – so we are delighted to be able to support Future Fixers, which does both. Seeing such innovative and exciting businesses start up in these challenging times is heartening, and we wish them success for the future.”

A wide variety of businesses have completed the Start-up Programme, from Cut The Wrap zero waste shop in Ulverston to The Spokesman bicycle wheel building and repair business in Kendal to Fjord Sar snow safety and skills training and many others.

How to take part

The next Future Fixers Purposeful Business Start-up Programme begins in September and is free to South Lakeland residents who are receiving unemployment benefits.  There will be a small fee of £60 for others living in South Lakes.

A small number of places are available to those living outside the area for the full fee of £495. 

There has already been a lot of interest, so early booking is suggested to avoid missing out.

Further details and booking options can be found at: 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/future-fixers-purposeful-business-start-up-programme-tickets-157048657763

More details about the scheme and the businesses supported, as well as how to book, can also be found at www.futurefixers.uk, by emailing hello@futurefixers.uk or calling Karen on 07854 751169 or Dave on 07837 023580.