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Government Funding for Church-Backed Community Enterprise Charity

Friday March 17 2017

From left: WEvolution Managing Director Noel Mathias; Jyoti Mhapsekar; Marie-Therese Martin, a member of the Maryhill self reliant group; Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt; Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, secretary of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council.

An innovative Church of Scotland-backed charity that has helped people in some of Scotland’s poorest communities start their own businesses is set to expand with help from a £225,000 grant from the Scottish Government.

Glasgow-based WEvolution has pioneered the creation of self-reliant groups in Scotland, already helping 250 people through a business model imported from in India.

The charity brings together small groups of people who all contribute a small amount of money each week to get a business idea off the ground. Once a business is underway the group can apply for a small loan to help their enterprise grow.

Some of the self-reliant groups started out using use skills they already had, while others have learned new skills. So far the groups have created enterprises that involve sewing, photography, woodworking and laundry. Now plans are underway to train people in bike repair, plastering and electrical wiring.

Scottish Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart said: “I’m delighted to be able to confirm this funding for WEVolution – a fantastic organisation which helps support some of Scotland’s communities with the greatest potential to change to follow their dreams and grow their own businesses.”

Noel Mathias, WEvolution’s managing director, said the new funds will allow it to work with an additional 150 people.

“I am grateful to the Scottish Government which has stood by us as we work alongside people trusting they will benefit the community and the country in the long run.

“This funding will help us grow the movement and take it to a lot more people in the regions where we work: Glasgow, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and Dundee.

“We now have a WEvolution product line — a tote bag, makeup bag and keychain - and we are talking to potential retail partners who are interested in stocking WEvolution products.

“So we hope that our products will be on display in high streets across the country before the end of the year.”

The announcement came at a WEvolution gathering in Glasgow which attracted attendees from England, the Netherlands, Wales and the USA, as well as from across Scotland. The charity is already working with groups in Manchester, Pontypridd and Rotterdam.

Mr Mathias added: “WEvolution started from a Church of Scotland group who visited India, seeking new ideas to help our most disadvantaged communities. Thanks to the support of the Church, we have gone from strength to strength and are now an independent charity.

“We now share our resources, experience and insights with our partners and we mentor them. So many people have contacted us and want to know how they can bring self-reliant groups to their communities and we want to make it easier for them to buy in.

“WEvolution now has plans to scale up significantly across the UK. We have just learned that we will be getting support from the International Centre for Social Fundraising, which will allow us to build our Self-reliant Group model into a social franchise that people can use across the UK.”

Also at the gathering was Jyoti Mhapsekar, who pioneered the self-reliant group model in Mumbai, India, bringing together women who make their living from rubbish dumps to negotiate waste management contracts.  She said: “I’m honoured and I feel very happy that WEvolution has been inspired by the courage and the hard work of our women.

“Our women are some of the poorest women in the city. We call them rag pickers. They came together to secure waste management contracts. But even though they are so poor they smile. They smile despite their struggles.

“The model will vary in different places because the circumstances are different. But wherever women build their own lives from their own efforts they become more confident and that is very important.”




Iain Whyte - Friday, March 17th, 2017

“Great to see this project going so well. Glad the Guild played a major part in supporting it too . ”

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