StartUp Croydon is celebrating after winning a prestigious national award for its work in helping thousands of new businesses to get off the ground and flourish.
The borough’s Accredited Enterprise Agency, which has been supporting start-ups and SMEs for more than 30 years, was named Enterprise Support Organisation of the Year for 2016 at the National Enterprise Network awards, in conjunction with NatWest.
StartUp Croydon took the top award for agencies with a turnover of less than £750,000 as well as being highly commended in the Enterprise Communicator of the Year category.
Chairman David Robinson said: "The Enterprise Organisation of the Year is the biggest and most prestigious award so to win it is a fantastic accomplishment. We are all very proud of what we have achieved.”
"It has crowned a momentous year during which we have undertaken a rebrand from Croydon Business Venture to StartUp Croydon and created a stylish new co-working space, as part of a bespoke plan of support for the borough's start-ups and small businesses.”
"One of the things any successful business, including ourselves, is the ability to recognise and embrace change and this award is recognition of the innovative steps we have taken to provide the best possible service to the entrepreneurs who are the lifeblood of the local economy."
National Enterprise Network chairman Graham Marley and chief executive Dawn Whiteley MBE were joined by NatWest regional manager Andy Lee in judging the awards.
In addition to its core role of helping start-up advice by supplying expert advice, training and mentoring the judges were impressed by StartUp Croydon’s work in the local community.
“As well as undertaking a major rebrand to StartUp Croydon, the team has enhanced and extended it work with its partners and stakeholders, including involvement in the Croydon Business Month and a founding partner of LoveCroydonJobs,” they said.
“The team also worked with Croydon Chamber and member companies; and are proud to have developed an enhanced relationship with NatWest and RBS that has seen the creation of a bespoke plan of support for Croydon-based start-ups and small businesses.”
“The organisation is a key community champion with is sponsorship of Best New Business at the Croydon Business Excellence Awards, and has assisted in driving forward the groundbreaking Be the Change initiative launched by LoveCroydonJobs and Humanitopia.”
“This inspirational programme is aimed at year nine students who may have become disengaged with school or lack confidence in their own abilities.”
StartUp Croydon recently announced it is beginning delivery of a scheme to help people who are not in work to set up a social enterprise through the SEEK Project.
Along with Croydon Council, the organisation has secured grant funding from the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund to help deliver the initiative in the Coast to Capital region.
Councillor Toni Letts, the deputy mayor of Croydon and a champion of the local community business community, praised StartUp Croydon’s success to delegates at the Develop Croydon Conference.
“It’s a great achievement and it helps to show that Croydon really is happening,” she said.