project logo banner

This programme is now closed. However, we can offer similar type of support through a number of other initiatives.

Please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Starting a business or social enterprise is simple. This programme offered events, advice and opportunities to test and grow a business from idea to start-up, through to the growth and maturity phase.

In addition, participants had access to the tools and coaching aimed to help budding entrepreneurs to start their own business or social enterprise.

This FREE programme, part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the national Pathways4Recovery initiative, was open to economically inactive individuals and those that are unemployed (not working).

  • Individuals who are 18+ years old
  • Individuals currently unemployed
  • UK residents or legally authorised to work in the UK
  • Live in Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes or Northamptonshire

10:30am – 11:00am Registration, Tea, Coffee and Pastries
11:00am – 11:05am Opening Remarks , Chris Fox (pathways4Recovery Project Lead)
11:05am – 11:30am

Keynote Presentation: “Entrepreneurship as a tool for Economic Empowerment”

Delivered by Debbie Lewis, Regional Ecosystem Manager at NatWest Business

11:35am – 12:00pm

Pitch Competition:

  • Melissa Mason, Founder of Melmase Books
  • Oana Secara, Founder of Gentle Reviving Therapy
  • Errol Connage, Founder of Manwetalk
  • Andy Kirtland, Founder of Neurodiversity Inspire
12:00pm – 12:10pm Networking / Break
12:10pm – 12:40pm

Fireside chat:

  • Julia Brightman, Founder of Crème Brew Lait
  • Bhavesh Tekwani, Founder of Rywards (UoB Alumni)
  • Greg Dorban, Founder of Comfy Workers (UoB Alumni)

Moderated by Dr Winifred Soribe, Entrepreneur in Residence and Associate Lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire.

12:40pm - 12:50pm Networking / Break – Drinks available
12:50pm - 1:20pm

Panel discussion: “How can Universities be Incubators of Innovation”

  • Simon Krystman, Co-founder of 12 Ronnies
  • Muhammad Azam, Senior Lecturer and MBA Portfolio Lead at University of Bedfordshire
  • Dr Imani Kyaruzi, Principal Lecturer, Ulster University
  • Debbie Lewis, Regional Ecosystem Manager, NatWest Business

Moderated by Dr Mohamed Saeudy, Research Director and Senior Lecturer, School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Bedfordshire.

1:20pm – 1:25pm Announcement of winners, pitch competition
1:25pm - 1:30pm Closing remarks
1:30pm - 2:30pm LUNCH AND NETWORKING



WINNERS of the Pitch Competition:

1st Place - Melissa Mason, an author and self-publisher of children's books. She won a one-year membership to the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce.

2nd Place - Andy Kirtland, an alumnus of the University of Bedfordshire and the founder of Neurodiversity Inspire. He won Amazon vouchers as his prize.

Sadia Hussain, DWP Self-Employment Luton, said: "Brilliant event [yesterday], very informative and insightful."

Participant Feedback:

Melissa Mason said:

"Registering for Pathways4Recovery was a pivotal step for me in pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams and receiving valuable support in establishing my own business and building my brand.

Participating in this program has not only instilled self-belief in me but also provided me with a unique opportunity to pitch my ideas to a panel of judges during the Entrepreneurship Event — an experience I had never had before. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity and the confidence it has given me to take bold strides in my entrepreneurial journey."


Andy Kirtland said:

"Attending the pathways recovery programme has provided me with a greater understanding of entrepreneurship. The workshops were very well detailed and participating in the Entrepreneurship Showcase Event 2023 whilst pitching my business ideas and coming a close second has given me extra confidence, especially when people like my ideas and there is certainly a gap in the market for it."