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Member Interview: Jennifer Condon, Wenta – Free Business Support Takes the Stage at the SME Bedfordshire Business Awards

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 16 Apr 2024

Currently celebrating its 40th year, social enterprise Wenta is a remarkable resource for anybody considering starting a business, already running a business, or looking to grow their business.

Dispensing free, impartial business advice, CPD accredited skills training, templates and toolkits, accompanied by free hot-desking facilities, affordable workspace, sustainability advice and access to specialist early stage growth support and funding, Wenta is the helping hand every new and aspiring small business needs to know about – and through its sponsorship of the SME Bedfordshire Business Awards, it’s determined to get the message ‘out there’.

We were lucky enough to interview Wenta’s Director of Client Services and Engagement, Jennifer Condon, recently, to learn more about Wenta’s work and values, and its support of this year’s Awards.

Real business advice and help

What’s striking in Jennifer’s responses to our questions is how often she uses words like “affordable”, “practical”, and “real-world”. It quickly becomes clear that Wenta is an extremely grounded organisation, with genuine, grass-roots knowledge of the help small businesses need to overcome challenges and unknowns.

Most of the organisation’s in-house business advisors have run their own business, there’s no cost for Wenta’s business advice, training and resources, and there’s no assumption of prior knowledge.

“We help people from the moment they’re thinking of starting a business,” Jennifer says, “as well as when they’re up and running, and also right through to when businesses might need specialist early stage growth support.”

Wenta’s on-site and online skills training and resources cover off the whole gamut of business essentials – from finance and bookkeeping, to business planning and cash flow projections, to marketing, and - in keeping with today’s issues - carbon reduction and sustainability.

But Jennifer explains that help is also about just being able to pick up the phone and ask “How do I do this?” and get a willing, knowledgeable, helpful response.

Trusted service provider, extraordinary metrics

Wenta is also a trusted, go-to partner for other organisations and Government bodies, including The Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, and Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC), whose Start-up Support Programme Wenta delivers.  The Central Start programme from CBC is funded by the UK Shared Propriety Fund (UKSPF) and Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF).  As well as start-up advice and training, the programme offers a business start-up grant, between £300 and £3000, for businesses less than three years old in Central Bedfordshire.

At the same time, Wenta relies on business experts both from within its own ranks and externally to ensure the supply of advice and training is not only plentiful but as up-to-date as possible.

This combination has meant that Wenta has achieved some stunning engagement, reach, and outcomes over the last year. Its latest Annual Review shows that it has delivered more than 43,600 hours of business support nationally, to well over 24,000 people across England.

And the upshot of this can be measured in hard figures: 607 new businesses started (that’s around £9.1 million gross value added to the UK economy), and 614 jobs created, with a value of £38 million.

Wenta at the SME Bedfordshire Business Awards

Wenta’s sponsorship of the SME Bedfordshire Business Awards reflects two of the organisation’s passions.

Firstly, encouraging aspiring business owners and founders to, as Jennifer puts it, “follow their dream” and make their mark on how business can be done.

And secondly, supporting businesses to enable them to reduce or remove the harmful impact their products or services might otherwise have on the environment but in a way that also benefits their business.

To this end, Wenta is sponsoring both the Best Enterprising Business Award and Action Zero Sustainability Award.

“We’re delighted to support such a high-profile awards programme for local businesses,” says Jennifer. “There’s nothing better than seeing the kinds of businesses we help every day receiving public recognition for their hard-earned success.”

For more information, visit the Awards site here. To enquire about becoming a Chamber member, visit or speak to our friendly team on 01582 522448.

For more information on how Wenta can help you and your business, visit:

Topics: member interview

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