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Building businesses in Greater Manchester’s libraries

An innovative project supporting entrepreneurs in libraries has been scaled up across Greater Manchester.

‘Build A Business’ offers in-person workshops, one-to-one support and connects people to local networking events offering a wealth of expertise to help develop their ideas and turn them into profitable business ventures.

Part funded by the UK Shared Prosperity fund through a grant administered by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Build a Business is being led by Manchester City Council and will be available until March 2025.

The service first started in September 2021 and was rolled out across eight of Greater Manchester’s localities. By December 2023, more than 1,400 people had attended at least one workshop, with almost half of these people identified as being from a racially minoritised community.

Rochdale and Wigan were recently added to the offer, meaning that even more people can now benefit.

‘Build a Business’ support is can be accessed at each local authority’s Business & Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC) based in its main library.

The BIPC’s connect start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SME’s) to industry-standard business information including market research, company and credit data, and intellectual property resources giving businesses a competitive edge from the beginning of their journey. They also offer dedicated workspaces, Wi-Fi, computer access and printing facilities (including 3D printing in most areas),

Events are held regularly throughout the year and are complemented by library-based Enterprise Officers, who are carefully recruited business support experts with in-depth knowledge of helping people to plan, develop and grow their ideas.

Councillor Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council and GM lead for economy said: “Greater Manchester is filled with creative, enthusiastic and inspiring entrepreneurialism and I’m proud that our city-region is leading such an innovative scheme offering access to resources that some of our smaller businesses and residents may not otherwise have access to.

“Build a Business offers a wide range of support in a convenient location, which will prove helpful to those wanting to expand their reach and scale up their businesses.

“I’m really pleased that we’re now able to welcome Wigan and Rochdale into the programme and we look forward to the new businesses we can help to develop, further adding to Greater Manchester’s thriving and vibrant economy.” 

To date, a varied mix of prospective and established businesses have been supported including; artists, bakers, caterers, engineers, fashion designers, graphic designers, holistic therapists, horticulturists, personal trainers, photographers and others.

One such business is ‘My Sen Den’ - a sensory toy hire company launched in early 2023 by two Stockport-based mums.

As parents of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), Emily Brookes and Claire Cunliffe are passionate about providing a unique service making children’s parties more inclusive, while also stimulating development and meet varying sensory needs. 

After finding the Build a Business service online, Emily and Claire headed to their local library to find out more.

They said: “The workshops and advice we have received has been invaluable in helping us to build a strong base for our business.

“It has allowed us to navigate essentials like trademarking, provided us with legislative knowledge and advice and gave us access to a wealth of databases which would have been financially inaccessible otherwise.

“We have since applied for a grant and have been able to find trusted local suppliers. With the strong support of the Build and Business initiative and our drive and ambition, we are looking forward to building a successful business.”

More information about the project, and details on how to book onto upcoming workshops, is available at

Article Published: 17/01/2024 13:19 PM