Spotlight on Community Grant Partner: SAMEE

10 January 2022

For our latest feature on organisations Smallwood support we talk to SAMEE co-founder Wayne Ingram about the impact our Community Grant Partner programme has had on their charity and the women they support.

Can you introduce yourself and SAMEE for those who may not be familiar?
Hi everyone, I’m Wayne Ingram a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the The Support And Mentoring Enabling Entrepreneurship (SAMEE) charity. SAMEE teaches self-employment skills to enable disadvantaged people to explore non-traditional forms of employment and achieve financial independence.

SAMEE offers a variety of services that better enable disadvantaged female beneficiaries to thrive and develop financial resilience through successful self-employment start-ups. We also work with women who decide not to pursue self-employment with advocacy support and employability skills building.

When did your relationship with the Smallwood Trust begin?
Our relationship with the Smallwood Trust began in 2018, when we were fortunate enough to receive a grant in order to launch our DAMSEL project. The funding helped us to enable 50 disabled females in Dorset to start their own self-employed ventures and escape living in poverty. The project was a great success with 1 in 3 successfully starting up as self-employed.

What drew you to the Community Grant Partner programme?
In 2019, our SAMEE charity took a step up in growth as we wanted to increase our social impact and help more and more disabled people in Dorset to gain further independence through successful self-employment start-up. Emma from the Smallwood Trust contacted us in Jan 2019 to tell us about a new programme, the Community Grant Partnerships. We felt that it was a great idea because our area of Dorset and beyond was not fully aware of Smallwood grant opportunities, and we felt that becoming a Community Grant Partner fitted in really well with our ambitions for scaling our impact. We decided to make an application.

How have you found this programme has complimented SAMEE’s goals of enabling women into self employment?
We have been a Community Grant Partner for almost 2 years now, and the programme totally adds value to our self-employment support service as the majority of disabled women that we engage with are experiencing financial hardship. Covid-19 caused untold financial devastation for many vulnerable women across Dorset, and we have found that being able to offer a Smallwood grant to our female beneficiaries who are struggling helps to alleviate a major barrier to progression. The rate of successful self-employed female beneficiaries has actually outweighed male beneficiary progressions, and we believe that this is due largely to the support of a Smallwood grant, helping them to focus on their self-employment plans.

Part of your use of individual grants is for women to conduct a ‘test marketing exercise’ on their journey to self employment – can you talk a bit more about what this is and how it’s used?
When we applied to become a Community Grant Partner, we were happy to award grants in the standard way and help vulnerable women to get back on their feet. However, because we are a specialist provider of self-employment support for disabled people, we added the opportunity to award any female beneficiary that fitted the eligibility a small grant of up to £100 in order for them to ‘test the market’ with their self-employment idea.

For example, we recently supported a disabled female who was considering launching a dog-walking service in Christchurch, Dorset. By awarding her a small grant which paid for 100 business flyers, this enabled her to advertise her service and test the market to see how many potential customers would respond. After 4 weeks, she had received 5 guaranteed enquiries which gave her the confidence to officially start her own business. Today, she has over 20 loyal customers and is doing really well, plus the regular walking has made a huge positive impact on her mental health.

Where do you see individual grants having the most impact?
I think that the main reason why Smallwood grants are so impactful is because the eligibility criteria is really versatile. There is a potential Smallwood grant for any female individual that is really struggling with life, but from our point of view, the biggest impact has been when we have awarded a Smallwood grant to a vulnerable female fleeing domestic violence. We recently awarded a Smallwood grant to help a single mother who had been re-housed by Social Services in order to move away from a violent partner, and the grant helped purchase vital household essentials. The impact of that Smallwood grant was literally life-changing for the applicant.

If someone is reading this and they have never heard of SAMEE before, what’s the best way they can support the organisation?
We are currently raising funds so that we can offer counselling sessions to any of our disabled female project participants that need that extra level of support in addition to our specialist self-employment advice and guidance. If any readers can help us please can you use our free Paypal donation link and donate any spare change you have. You can help us make a HUGE life-changing difference to the lives of disabled women in the UK.

Please donate any loose change to us - https://www.paypal.com/gb/fundraiser/charity/3614533

For more information on The SAMEE Charity visit: https://samee.co.uk/