Phoenix is a highly participative development programme designed to help those least engaged or with “complex barriers to employment” to grow sustainable businesses. It does this by equipping them with the mindset and tools needed to turn their skills into cash thereby quickly building a sustainable income stream. The ultimate aim is to remove their reliance on benefits enabling them to make the contribution they are so capable of making.

Rehabilitation through entrepreneurship

There is plenty of evidence that employment reduces reoffending.  The problem is how few employers will take on ex-offenders.  So as few as 17% find work within a year of release.  Entrepreneurs don’t need CVs.  They don’t need to disclose their past.  By offering valuable products or services that customers trust them to deliver, they can earn a respectable living.  Sadly, programmes that truly equip keen entrepreneurs to discover, define and deliver a valuable product or service are rare.  So few offer real life practical experience.  We recognise that you are short of resources so we show you how to minimise risk and expenses to maximise your chance of success.

Enterprise training can, at best, teach people about entrepreneurship.

Self-employment is a whole new ball game.  Whatever people learn about entrepreneurship never quite prepares them for the gritty reality of doing it themselves.  Being your own boss is empowering and scary in equal measure and no amount of theory really teaches people how to make money.  That is why we launched the Phoenix Programme.  For maximum impact we need real life experiences that empower rehabilitation through entrepreneurship as this example shows.


We have found that many of our participants know (or think they know) what they should be doing, but struggle with how to actually do it.  The reason is simple;  although there is a lot of business advice out there, unless it is adapted to each person’s individual circumstances, it is almost impossible to put into practice.

Our focus is pretty simple; we help individuals identify the best way to sell their skills.


Individuals have different capabilities and psychological barriers to be worked through. We evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each individual, enabling us to determine a personalised strategy for success.


Based on the initial evaluation, we work with our participants to bridge any gaps in knowledge and resources (from both a business and psychological perspective).


Routes to market and sales strategy are collectively mapped out to play to the strengths of each individual. The entrepreneurial experience of our program leaders provides our individuals with first class advice and planning.


Concept testing is an integral part of the Phoenix process. We work with our participants to test their business idea and strategy in order to prove their concept. This provides confidence to participants that they can succeed as an entrepreneur and will often result in their first sale.


Establishing an initial customer base is made easier when you’re part of a switched on network of like-minded entrepreneurs. Phoenix partners with trusted networking fellowship, Love Entrepreneurs where participants are asked to present challenges and be part of providing advice and solutions for one another. This gives participants a sense of belonging and acceptance in their new role as a business owner.


Phoenix is a community-led organisation. Between the program leaders and the wider group, there is rarely a problem we cannot find an imaginative solution to including funding.  A lot is possible on a shoestring including free websites, social media and neighbourhood marketing schemes. Phoenix is also partnered with Silvatree, a platform that enables businesses to purchase and sell goods and services at discounts of up to 95%, through using spare capacity.


A potent mix of lived experience and teaching expertise

Mark Neild - founder of Grow Inspires

Principal and Grow Inspires founder – Mark Neild

Mark has inspired and transformed the lives of thousands of entrepreneurs on the verge of poverty in Africa and Asia as well as delivering big impact for paying UK clients.  He is an award-winning mentor, author and innovation consultant, renowned in entrepreneurship nationally and internationally. He works with the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at University of Bristol – recently awarded the best enterprise education team in Higher Education when not running his business and Grow Inspires. Oh, and he is a keen sailor, former Naval Aviator and thoroughly nice chap.

Love Entrepreneurs co-founder – Eleri Haf-Cosslet

Cofounder of Phoenix, Eleri amassed a business worth £17M before losing it to fraud.  She is an ex-offender, who left prison with nothing but the statutory £43 pounds to her name.  She has managed to live on her wits, speak out and is creating a truly extraordinary business empire.  Her experiences inspired Phoenix because she found so little to help her when she came out.

Her passion for entrepreneurship is truly infectious.



Our participants action speaks louder than words. Phoenix participants become more engaged and mentally prepared to get out and sell their products. The epiphany is the realisation that they are responsible, enabling us to coproduce a process designed around their unique circumstances that empowers their success. Here are few examples (names changed to protect privacy):

caret-down caret-up caret-left caret-right

When Ian could not get funding for his barbershop business, we set him a challenge to find a new idea that required less capital.  A year out of jail and working for a charity that helps combat substance abuse, he was very familiar with the challenges faced by reforming addicts.  We helped him set up a half-way house.  From pitching the idea to a housing company, through negotiating a partnership where the company funded the conversion costs in exchange for a share of higher future rental income to dealing with the necessary compliance and taking on an employee, we gave Ian the confidence and capability to see it through.  We showed him how to play to his own strengths, to consider his partners perspective and think through and plan for the things that might go wrong.


Gill is amazingly talented; dance coach, mountain climber, storyteller, she seemed able to turn her hand to anything until cancer stopped her in her tracks.  Unabashed, she fought through to remission helped by her own remedy made from chilli, but found herself overwhelmed with too many ideas, but not enough income.  Gill knew that she needed to focus; her difficulty was with where to start.  We helped her put a plan together to distribute her chilli sauce through as many outlets as our collective imagination allowed, setting stretching but achievable targets backed by an actionable plan.  She set to it with renewed sense of purpose, securing a stand in a local market and selling to delis.


Just 6 weeks out of prison, Chris was just starting to find his feet.  He had worked hard on his painting and decorating qualifications while inside and was now struggling through construction certification.  But he had more imagination than just to slap magnolia emulsion on the walls of new build homes, his daring designs were eye-catching; he just needed to find a customer that appreciated them.  We encouraged him to put together a Facebook page to showcase his talent and share it amongst people he knew; he was soon getting enquiries.  Our biggest gift to Chris was the confidence to live to his potential rather simply accepting what fate cast in his path.


Jane was a struggling in the world of work.  As a single mother with school age child, her working day as a carpenter was severely curtailed and most employers did not want to know – plenty of men had no such constraints.  We helped Jane sell her woodworking skills directly to customers.  We helped her identify the customers she most wanted and describe her offer to attract them.  She started advertising her services and soon found paying clients willing to offer testimonials and referrals to help her grow her business.  We have also helped her put together a free Google for Business site to further spread the word.  Jane had most of the skills, she was just struggling to deploy them.


To arrange a chat with one of our program leaders, send us a message.