Business Ready helps We are Digital seize the moment
At a time when life, never mind business, is conducted increasingly on line, new opportunities are there for SMEs with the necessary ideas and expertise.
Warwick-based We are Digital is exactly such a business and is currently experiencing "phenomenal growth" - with grant support from Warwickshire County Council.
We are Digital is a digital and financial inclusion company which trains people how to best use the internet for business and leisure.
Even as day-to-day life turns more and more on-line, there remain more than ten million people in the UK still not on the internet. And this is a gap in the market which We are Digital is helping to fill by working with some of UK's largest housing associations, companies and charities to deliver basic digital skills group courses, workshops and one-to-one home training.
The company currently employs 18 people at its Warwick Technology Park base but is set to expand to meet the huge potential.And the scope for that essential expansion was smoothed by a £6,540.57 small capital grant from Warwickshire County Council.
"We have experienced phenomenal growth and the grant played a big part in that," said chief operating officer Stephen Burge. "It went into software development which was essential for us to meet the rising demand.
"We could not do what we do without that software and nobody else does what we do, so the development was critical. Wehave employed people directly because of the grant and we will be employing more.
"The support we received stretched beyond the grant. Janette Pallas, a business advisor based at the University of Warwick Science Park, was excellent and gave us some really good advice on things like cyber-security and getting in further investment."
The recent expansion means that We are Digital staff are able to deliver more and more workshops in and around communities.
"We are a profit-making business but with a social conscience," said Mr Burge. "We work mainly with housing associations but have held workshops in community centres, churches, people's homes - we can do anywhere, really.
"We train people to understand how the internet can benefit them. There is so much you can do more cheaply and efficiently on line, from banking, in light of banks closing high street branches, to getting the best shopping deals, applying for jobs and using skype andebay."
Janette Pallas manages the Business Ready business growth programme which is part-funded by Warwickshire County Council, the European Regional Development Fund and the University of Warwick Science Park. She said, “We are seeing some great examples of business growth achieved by companies such as We are Digital. As companies grow they meet different challenges which they haven’t encountered before, including raising external funds, implementing new systems, recruiting staff and taking new products to market.
Through programmes such as Business Ready we can help businesses with planning for growth, access to highly experienced mentors and targeted workshops to help upskill the team.”