Eric Bishyika founded his company SW Clothing selling a range of contemporary women’s and men’s fashion, from t-shirts and vests to accessories when he was just 13. Now aged 17, with the help of the Hub's mentoring programme and Oldham Business Leadership Group, Eric is already generating a turnover of over £25k and employing three people.
Eric is working with the Hub’s Growth Mentoring team and was matched with NatWest mentor John Paulson who could help him to develop the commercial side of his business. John has worked with Eric on cash flow forecasting and business planning in particular and as a result Eric was successful in obtaining a £6k grant from the OBLG Enterprise fund, a cash injection into business that allowed Eric to purchase a new laptop and to upgrade his website. John is continuing to work with Eric on growing his business and Eric is in now the process of applying for further funding to develop his business further.
Eric, who was formerly a student at the Oasis Academy in Oldham, originally created SW Clothing as part of a school design project, funding it initially with the money he earned delivering newspapers. With that capital he was able to build his business by setting up a shop at the Academy and creating a website to enable his garments to reach a wider audience.
He now has a store in Affleck’s Palace in Manchester every Saturday and attends the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy in his home town of Oldham to build up his business skills. Eric said: “As a young entrepreneur, I like to take advantage of every type of support available. The support from the team at the Business Growth Hub, John at NatWest and OBLG has been brilliant and my business is going from strength to strength as a result.
“I’d love to have a really successful clothing brand, and my real long term goal is to set up a charity to help young people in poorer countries to help them set up their own business.”
Eric’s mentor John Paulson said: “Acting as a new business mentor has allowed me to draw on some of the skills and knowledge gained over the years in business - which we sometimes can take for granted - and apply these into a fresh environment.
“It has been a real delight to have the opportunity to act as a mentor for Eric, assisting him with his business priorities, goals and helping him to be successful in achieving grant funding. The mentor/mentee relationship for me has not just been a "one-way experience"; it's been great to be able to help a truly self-motivated individual with a "can do" attitude to business and life, who we can all learn from.”
To find out more about the Growth Mentoring programme, Oldham Enterprise Fund or other support available through the Hub, contact the team on 0161 359 3050 or firstname.lastname@example.org