The N.O.A. Small Business Initiative Fund. – a Community crowdfunding project in Upper Lydbrook by Jamie Rackham
Jamie Rackham is an Independent Business Owner based in Gloucestershire.
With the onset of the second UK Covid-19 lockdown he decided to start an initiative to help the owners of independent creative businesses.
“On November 3rd 2020 I decided to form a Facebook Group which independent creative businesses could use as a point where they could connect with their customers whilst non-essential shops and markets were closed.
Over the following six months the membership of this group has grown to be over 131,000 with around ten percent of those being business owners. It seems I was lucky enough to identify and provide a service that people needed at that point in time and continue to find highly useful today.
A thing which quickly became apparent whilst monitoring the comments on members posts was the amount of business that was being generated from having posts on the feed, with some reporting as much as a 300% increase in sales after advertising their business there.
Another thing which soon became clear was the way that people began to value the group space as a place for social interaction at a time when we were all unable to have any in the ‘real world’. There is a lot of good will and positive energy within the group and that seems to be the thing which has made it what it is today.
Pretty early on it seemed like an obvious next step for the group could be to somehow try and use this financial power and sense of good will to try and help struggling communities who’d been hit by the pandemic. So after just 9 days of planning, on New year’s Eve 2020 we were able to raise over £1700 for a Bristol based food aid project by holding an auction of items donated by group member businesses. It is quite amazing to see that the group and its members have been able to make real change in people’s lives in the short space of time we’ve been running.
At six months old, the running of the group is a much more organised affair so this could be the perfect time to start expanding the group’s reach into local business communities and to start working on projects like local makers markets with group members and contacting other groups or communities with similar goals of promoting independent creative or ethical businesses.
Our first Crowdfunder raised a total of £5,450 in December 2020, which paid for some up to date office equipment, an external website directory of sellers and helped towards some of the day to day living expenses of the people doing the bulk of the work at that time.
With this one we hope to be able to raise enough money to cover the day to day costs of the staff for a period of several months.
‘The Facebook group was an idea that literally came to me as I was eating my lunch one day, it had none of the prior planning that normally goes into this kind of project. I had never set up a public Facebook group before and I’ve had to learn everything I’ve done so far while I’ve been doing it.’
The only thing certain right now is that this business community is thriving during uncertain times and we’ve helped a lot of independent businesses.
We need your help now if we want to keep it moving in the right direction.”
This content was originally published here.