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‘Without them I would not have had the confidence to believe’ - Praise for enterprise hub as it closes its doors

PUBLISHED: 18:09 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 18:09 31 July 2018

Digby Chacksfield, chief executive of The Eastern Enterprise Hub. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Digby Chacksfield, chief executive of The Eastern Enterprise Hub. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Graduates of a flagship East Anglian enterprise hub have praised its “invaluable” work as it closed on Tuesday due to the tough funding climate.

The Eastern Enterprise Hub was launched seven years ago and served the region, with a base in Norwich, originally at PwC’s office at St James Court, and a headquarters on Ipswich Waterfront.

Since 2011, 2,000 people from across the region have attended a range of programmes for start-ups and for social entrepreneurs under the School for Social Entrepreneurs East banner.

But chief executive Digby Chacksfield said: “Unfortunately in the current climate, it’s getting harder and harder to source available opportunities to resource our programming, therefore our board of directors took the very tough decision that it was the right time to close the business.

“I am very proud that the hub’s notion of being entrepreneurial as a way of developing success has helped so many people over the last eight years. The folk who have come through Eastern Enterprise Hub programmes have moved themselves from feeling uncertain and nervous to being confident and streetwise entrepreneurs, many now award-winning.”

It was “heartening” that the founding spirit of the hub would continue through partners in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and London delivering “fantastic programmes”, he said.

Hub graduate Matt Townsend, chief executive of Norwich-based The Feed, which supports people who have faced homelessness by teaching them food and hospitality industry skills, said the support he received was “invaluable”.

“Support from our learning manager, experts and speakers has meant a lot to me personally and I feel The Feed is in a much better position as a result of the help we have received from the Eastern Enterprise Hub and School for Social Entrepreneurs East,” he said.

Graduate Sarah Stock, who set up Independence Matters CIC, a social enterprise owned mutually by its employees and Norfolk County Council which works with vulnerable adults in Norfolk, said she would always be grateful for the encouragement and support she received. “Without them I would not have had the confidence to believe that I could do this and Independence Matters CIC would not exist. It was an amazing journey,” she said.


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