Ruthin group helps budding female entrepreneurs into business
A scheme launched by seven women to encourage others into business is now supporting more than 30 entrepreneurs by encouraging them to work together.
Female Professional Creatives Clwyd (FPCC), was formed in Ruthin, Denbighshire, by friends who wanted to share tips on how to start up and run a business.
The scheme now attracts more than 30 women at its monthly meetings.
There are plans to encourage the Welsh government to adopt a similar scheme.
FPCC was started earlier this year by Hazel Roberts, Tanya Mortimer, Sarah Hughes, Holly Edwards, George Jones, Sarah Williams and Angharad Preston, who run businesses in the Ruthin area.
They wanted to help and encourage women to start their own businesses.
However, as interest grew, they realised they could not devote the time they wanted to.
The project was handed to Margaret Carter, an entrepreneur for nearly 50 years - 30 of them running the Ruthin-based Patchwork Traditional Foods company.
She said: "They were all friends and helped each other on a social level.
"Since then it's morphed, and we hold the meeting at Patchwork once a month.
"We had 19 at the first meeting, 27 at the second, and our most recent meeting had 33."
The group does not charge, and Ms Carter offers individual mentoring if requested.
She added: "I want them to help each other.
"I would like to see other entrepreneurs like myself to engage in doing the simple things that I'm doing."
Under the new name, Patchwork People Network, the group shares ideas and experiences which, Ms Carter says, helps "cross-fertilises their businesses".
Recent figures show unemployment for women in Wales is at a 20-year high.
Ms Carter said the group was never intended to be women-only, but just "morphed into that".
"We're evolving into something very special. I'm told it's unlike any other group of its kind.
"It's not to exchange business cards. It's about empowering people."
Ms Carter is on the panel of the Welsh government's Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy and wants ministers to adopt similar networking schemes for young businesses across Wales.
She is also involved in a similar local project with school children and wants to widen the scheme to teach youngsters entrepreneurial skills.
She added: "I want businesses up and down Wales to say the model works, and get other businesses in Wales to help youth."
Sarah Hughes, of edible flowers firm Eat My Flowers, said the original FPCC was "very informal".
She added: "We would meet and discuss how businesses were going. We worked as mentors for each other and it worked very well.
"Then we found other people wanted to join and we realised there was a need for something like this in the local area."
George Jones, who runs beauty products firm Bathing Beauty, said: "We're not experts in how to write a business plan.
"As far as advice on how to manage three kids under 10 and run two businesses, that's the kind of thing we can advise on.
"We're very much in Margaret's group now. The group has expanded massively. It's really taken off."