The Damsel project: supporting female entrepreneurs in Dorset

Samantha Everard, Chief Executiveof The Samee Charity shares a story of one of the women their Damsel project has supported.

“We are about 6 months in to the DAMSEL project which our SAMEE charity launched in May 2019 with financial support from the Smallwood Trust. Our new project is designed to help disabled females to escape poverty by starting their own business. DAMSEL teaches valuable self-employment skills which develops employability prospects, boosts confidence and raises aspirations so disabled female entrepreneurs can transform their lives and become positive role models in their households and the wider community.

So far, we have engaged 44 disabled females across Dorset and 10 have already successfully started self-employment!

Charlene was a single mother challenged with a mental health condition who joined our DAMSEL project in June 2019. Due to her personal challenges, Charlene struggled to find any employment opportunities with hours that could fit around her health and parenting needs. This resulted in her becoming long term unemployed and socially isolated, which led to severe depression and social phobia.

Charlene was referred to our DAMSEL project from Poole Job Centre because she had expressed an interest in working for herself as a nail artist. During the first meeting we explored her interest further and discovered that she was fully qualified as a nail technician but needed self-employment skills in order to set up her business. We helped her to create a test marketing questionnaire which would prove her mobile nail artist business idea was viable. As a result of our first meeting, Charlene’s mental health condition improved rapidly.

With newfound boosted confidence she received excellent results to the test marketing questionnaire and with lots of encouragement from her linked female volunteer business mentor she engaged with the next phase of our support in order to officially set up as self-employed. With expert advice and guidance from her adviser and continued mentor support, she compiled a fully researched business plan and launched her mobile nail technician business in July 2019.

As a result of joining our DAMSEL project, the positive changes to Charlene’s life included newfound confidence and increased self-esteem. By engaging with new customers, her mental health has improved which means she is better able to integrate with the local community. And finally, her resilience and financial health has improved with less need to rely on welfare benefits. Ultimately, our support has enabled Charlene to transform her outlook on life from one of despair and depression to a new life path of joy and pride in becoming a differently abled female who is now independent and self-employed.

The SAMEE charity CEO Samantha Everard said, ‘we are thrilled to have played a part in helping Charlene find success in her life, and that’s what DAMSEL is all about; and we couldn’t have started our innovative project without financial support from the Smallwood Trust’ To find out more about The SAMEE charity and their transformational DAMSEL project, please contact Samantha Everard on 01202 424477 or email sameeproject@outlook.com”

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