Forum to promote Norfolk’s rural entrepreneurs

Two contrasting Norfolk businesswomen hope to inspire future generations of rural entrepreneurs when they address an enterprise forum this week.

The Norfolk Way Enterprise Forum will be held at Fakenham Racecourse on Wednesday with the aim of encouraging commercial start-ups in Mid Norfolk and giving non-academic schoolchildren a better start in industry.

Speakers on 'the challenge of starting a business in rural Norfolk' will be Diana Brocklebank Scott, who runs Creake Abbey studios and farmers market, and Madhu Choudhry, founder of an Indian cookery school and catering business in Etling Green, near Dereham.

As well as hearing personal advice on building companies from scratch, visitors to the forum can also meet the first three students to benefit from The Norfolk Way bursary scheme.

The bursaries aim to help 16 to 18-year-old non-academic school-leavers gain life-changing work experience and mentoring from high-profile local businesses.

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Wednesday's forum will be hosted by business author and Big Society troubleshooter Robert Ashton, a Norfolk Way board member who expects to become chairman of the group.

Mr Ashton said: 'The event is giving people an insight into how two women, one local and one from India, created successful enterprises in rural Norfolk. One is traditional and one surprisingly 'out of place', but successful because of it.

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'It is about challenging those perceptions, raising aspirations, creating the next generation and encouraging them to be entrepreneurial and succeed where they are, rather than being tempted to move somewhere else.'

Not-for-profit social enterprise The Norfolk Way began life in 2007 as part of Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman's election campaign. The MP is still a key member of the board, but has 'passed the baton' onto Mr Ashton, who said it was important that the independent group remained apolitical, while retaining the parliamentary influence of its founder.

'The idea now is to develop it so that more people can take part,' said Mr Ashton. 'For the Norfolk Way to really achieve something it has to be independent, but having that link to Westminster through George is so important.'

Madhu Choudhry a former research scientist who moved to England from India in 1973, opened her Ethnic Fusion School of Indian Cookery earlier this year after transforming a former barn in Etling Green.

Diana Brocklebank Scott has based her more traditional Norfolk business at Creake Abbey near Fakenham, now home to an award winning farmers' market, cafe and a courtyard of artisan shops and studios.

?The Norfolk Way Enterprise Forum will be held at the Prince of Wales Stand at Fakenham Racecourse on Wednesday from 6pm-8.30pm. Places are limited and strictly on a 'first come, first served' basis. For ticket prices and booking information, visit or call 01842 829 748.

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