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Jo Swinson MP with entrepreneurial military wives and delegates

Minister meets entrepreneurial military wives on visit to Ludgershall

Women and equalities minister Jo Swinson dropped in to the Enterprise Centre in Ludgershall on Thursday to see firsthand how military wives and other local women have been helped to start and grow their businesses thanks to funding from Swindon and Wiltshire’s Regional Growth Network.

The minister toured the new Enterprise Centre, which is helping support military personnel and their wives kickstart their new enterprising initiatives by providing new start-up space, on-site support, fast broadband connectivity and access to rural community grants.

The Enterprise centre received £250,000 from the Government Equalities Office. 

The minister said: “Encouraging entrepreneurship is vital to building a stronger economy and we want to see more women setting up their own businesses. But we know living in a rural area can present specific challenges and prevent budding entrepreneurs from getting ahead. 

“To help turn business dreams into reality, the Government Equalities Office has provided a £1.6 million fund to support women’s enterprise in rural areas, with nearly £250,000 going to Wiltshire. 

“It’s great to be able to see how women are benefiting from this support. I’m sure they will be a real inspiration for other aspiring businesswomen.”

The minister met with a number of local female entrepreneurs including Kristen Smith, a military wife, who has built up a highly successful specialist healthcare recruitment consultancy, Staff Medical Ltd. Kirsten said:

“Even with inevitable childcare challenges, one of the best things about being your own boss is that you set the rules; you create your own dreams. Of course, running your own business means a lot of juggling and spinning of plates – and it’s certainly not 9 ‘til 5, but it’s hugely satisfying. 

“There is a lot of help in Wiltshire and because my business is based online – it means I can work anywhere and at any time. It’s the ultimate in flexible working.

“My advice would be for military wives who have a great business idea to make the most of the support and help available through The Enterprise Network in Wiltshire and Swindon. There’s really nothing to lose in taking your idea to the next stage.”

The Enterprise Centre, on the Castledown Business Park – two miles from the Tidworth super-garrison, has been designed to appeal to micro businesses, with flexible office space available to rent by the hour, or by the week.

There are eight offices on the ground floor, a large, communal network and training area, an eight-seat meeting room, and a storage/display area. The first floor has 11 further offices.

Castledown Enterprise Centre can accommodate up to 47 people within 19 offices. It is planned that a minimum of 22 businesses will operate from the centre.