Project Increase to help kick-start 1,100 new businesses

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Acronym: Increase (Increase Valorisation Sociale)
Duration: 10/2017 - 04/2019 (39 months)
Total budget: € 10,006,355
ERDF: € 6,904,385

Project Increase will develop a new cross-border training programme to help social housing residents set up their own micro-businesses or achieve other forms of employment. The project will aim to help train 6,000 participants, creating up to 1,100 new businesses and helping a further 2,000 people into employment.

Typically, social housing residents face higher than average unemployment with 53% of residents in the UK unemployed or economically inactive, compared with the 30% national average. In target areas of France this figure is 39.5% against a national average of 36%.

Project Increase will aim to tackle this problem by working closely with housing associations in 38 neighbourhoods in France and the UK to deliver one-to-one training sessions for residents. It is the first large-scale micro-enterprise training programme tailored specifically for social housing residents and communities. Participants will learn all the necessary skills to launch their own businesses, including how to trial and market test business ideas and how to manage their finances through micro-loans.

Once the project has ended, Increase will continue to support participants and other housing association residents by creating a number of community ambassador roles in each of the 38 neighbourhoods. These ambassadors will provide on-going support to micro-entrepreneurs and continue to engage future participants, ensuring the long lasting legacy of the project.

William Miller, Community Development Director at Optivo, said: “We’re delighted to have been chosen as the lead partner in this project. Optivo has a long and successful history of providing innovative schemes to tackle unemployment and job skills in our communities. In the last two years this has included trialling micro-enterprise training for our residents. The Increase Project is a brilliant opportunity to take this to the next level in a super partnership with French and UK housing and training specialist agencies.”