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Spokesperson

Spokesperson

Social enterprise reaches out to marginalised communities to get them into cycling.

Cardiff-based social enterprise offering bike repairs and sale, is helping people from marginalised communities get into cycling. Having benefitted from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service, owner Willoughby Zimmerman also runs maintenance classes including free sessions for women and LGBTQ+ people.

  • 1 job created
  • successfully incorporated Spokesperson as a CIC

Introduction to business

Willoughby Zimmerman recently set up their own business, Spokesperson, in Cardiff offering bike repairs, bike sales and workshops. Having set it up as a community interest venture, Willoughby is also aiming to reach out to marginalised communities, including women and LGBTQ+, by sponsoring community rides and events to get more people hooked on cycling.

Why did you decide to set up your own business?

I decided to set up Spokesperson for a variety of reasons, but two really stand out. Firstly, the traditional model of bike shops is really in trouble. Small local bike shops are closing all the time and even national giants like Evans are going under and having to be bought out. Bike shops need a new, community-centred, more diverse business model, and it’s this new model that I’m trying to build (my business is a CIC – a community interest company).

Secondly, we are currently facing a climate crisis and we need to revolutionise how we transport people and goods around cities (more bikes, less cars) and how we do business (more sustainably, less competitive). Put simply, I am an activist, and I aim to get more bums on saddles.

Business Wales support

Willoughby attended a Business Wales start-up workshop, where they could research and plan their business idea in more detail, define a relevant and interesting brand, find suitable premises and create a basic business plan. Willoughby has since worked with a Growth Adviser, Miranda Bishop, to finalise their business plan and financial forecasts, determine start-up costs, initial sales strategy and price list, as well as branding and social media marketing.

This enabled Willoughby to launch Spokesperson successfully in the summer of 2019.

Outcomes

  • 1 job created
  • a successful launch

Miranda is fantastic. I have been impressed not only by the breadth of her expertise, but also by her specific knowledge about social enterprises. She always has sound advice and a wealth of ideas. I’ve been blown away by how dedicated and helpful Business Wales and especially Miranda have been.

Future plans and ambitions

My future plans are to have an economically and environmentally sustainable business, with successful social programmes running in tandem with the traditional cycle repair and retail. Eventually, I would like to expand the business by taking on employees who, like myself, come from marginalised communities, and in doing so, give them training and experience, in order to “pull them up the ladder” with me.

If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.

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