Agency search for young entrepreneurs

Published 7 May 2019 by Matthew Amer

The Agency, a programme to help young entrepreneurs realise their ideas and grow their skills, has launched as part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture, and is looking for young people to take part.

Run by Walthamstow’s Blackhorse Workshop on behalf of Battersea Arts Centre, the programme will give 20 young people the chance to both learn and bring to life their ideas for community-changing social enterprises, event, project and businesses.

The Agency, which launched in the UK in 2013, gives young people the opportunity to work with, and be mentored by, member of both the business and cultural community. The 12-week creative workshop programme teaches them business and networking skills along with creative problem solving so at the end of the scheme they will have the skills needed to realise their ambitions and make an impact on their community.

Following the workshops, the participants will present their ideas to a panel of local artists and business people. Three will be chosen to receive £2,000 of seed funding and additional mentoring support to launch their project over the summer.

Speaking about the scheme, Sam Hunt, Executive Director of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture, said: “This year is a platform for new creative opportunities for our residents; whether that is as artists, participants, audience members; or in the case of The Agency, as budding creative entrepreneurs. There is evidence in all sectors and industries that creativity is key to unlocking potential success. Supporting the next generation of leaders through a programme such as this will ensure that culture forms the bedrock of our borough's economy; creating jobs and opportunities for residents for years to come.”

Launched in 2013 by Battersea Arts Centre and Contact, Manchester, in association with People’s Palace Projects, The Agency was inspired by Brazilian social change project Agência de Redes Para Juventude. Unique among training opportunities due to its blend of arts and business, it has launched 28 projects over the last four years, reaching almost 8,000 people. To date, 24 of those projects continue to operate independently of the scheme.

Among those schemes are 2018 London successes including:

  • Working Out The Kinks, aimed at helping young BAME girls to embrace their natural hair and learn how to care for it 
  • The Glow Up, which promoted positive body image for secondary school pupils with skin conditions
  • Streets Got Talent, music and talent events for young people on Wandsworth’s Alton Estate aimed at crime reduction and promoting positive communities.

This year the project will be run by Blackhorse Workshop, an organization created to continue the legacy of making and manufacturing. The organisation, which runs regular education and events programmes and offers studio space for local start-ups, has also worked with Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture to create the Atomic50 metalworking factory, a theatrical hands-on making experience for children.

Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries commented: “I am delighted that young people from across Waltham Forest can now apply to take part in The Agency – a brilliant project that will help their creative business idea take shape, build their skills and provide crucial seed funding. London is full of creative talent and Waltham Forest, London’s first Borough of Culture, is no exception. This innovative project will enable young Londoners from all backgrounds to realise their ambitions and become the creative entrepreneurs of the future.”

In addition to young people to take part, The Agency also needs Waltham Forest’s business leaders and creatives to provide mentorship to the participants. From offering a single one-off meeting to providing ongoing support, these mentors will help develop the young people’s project management and business skills, build networks and learn problem-solving techniques.

For more information about The Agency, or to take part, contact Xenia Moseley.