Aspire Enterprise Services Ltd

A leading social enterprise providing professional services across Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley, with social impact built in

Aspire's Enterprise Development Programme Goes Digital

The Enterprise Development Programme began in May 2019, offering intensive, specialist advice to individuals in Oxfordshire facing barriers to self-employment. Through the programme, clients have the opportunity to develop their skills and take their first steps towards realising their business aspirations.

The programme has continued through the challenges of COVID-19, with EDP Manager Sophie continuing to offer 1:1 self-employment support over the phone, where prospective clients considering self-employment or starting businesses of their own to get in touch, discuss their ideas, and arrange further support from Sophie on a personalised basis.

From online requests for trade-specific guidance and industry equipment to connecting with a graphic designer through the Team Oxford Furlough Exchange to develop new business branding, Sophie has worked hard to sustain momentum for learning, business planning and personal progression for programme participants over the past year.

The programme’s ‘Thinking of Starting a Business?’ self-employment course returned digitally via the Zoom platform in October of 2020, and continues monthly to support a new cohort of learners facing barriers to employment - with ten participants completing the course in January. For two hours over the course of four days, learners explore business ideas, how businesses begin and access practical advice - with digital support available for those facing obstacles to accessing the course, such as a lack of digital devices or confidence with video platforms such as Zoom.

“While it's really not the same as face-to-face, the groups in our online courses have worked incredibly well together, supporting one another as they learn about self-employment in an unfamiliar environment. There have been benefits to moving online - we’ve been able to support clients to connect digitally through the provision of equipment and pre-course 1:1 sessions to introduce them to Zoom, so in this time of isolation, they are more connected in their daily lives.” - Sophie Kilmister, Enterprise Development Programme Manager

Find out more today

To find out more about our Enterprise Development Programme and Consultancy services, contact Sophie at