Interview with Winsome Duncan by Tamala Cesear

You’re known as the Budgeting Queen Bee. What’s the story behind the name?
I like to help people who are unemployed or on low incomes to save money. I remember when I was unemployed, how tough it was being on a shoestring budget. The name came out of hardship and experience making the pennies stretch further.

What inspired you to start your business, MPLOYME?
In Easter 2013, my temping contract ended abruptly and I was unemployed for the third time in my adult life. I fell into depression for three months; I was living off £49.00 per week because of my previously self-employed status. I always worked for myself part-time and decided to take the plunge and go into full-time self-employment. I know that I did not want anyone dictating to me ever again as to when I can go on holiday, or if I can stay or go. MPLOYME was born on 16th September 2013.

What programmes do you run/services do you provide?Our umbrella workshops are called Proactive Employment Workshops. To date, we have put on the following projects:

  • The Enterprise Fair
  • 8 Steps to Employment
  • Employment-Ready workshops
  • Business Start-Up packages
  • Mentoring Services
  • First Steps to Employment

How does the work that you do impact your community?

70% of our clients have secured jobs since attending our workshops and receiving one-to-one support over a three-month period.

Describe what you do in one word.
Empower

What inspires you do to this type of work? What drives you?
I have empathy for those who are currently unemployed and have lost their confidence. Also, I am passionate about business start-up as well. What drives me is my faith in God, and my belief as a Christian living in poverty to securing over £30,000 worth of funding in the second year of MPLOYME. Only God could have shown me such favour.

How does your faith impact what you do?
I believe as a Christian you illuminate God’s light. This is what people see when they come into contact with me. I know I am doing God’s work because He had always led.

Who are your influencers?
God first and foremost. I am a woman of faith and substance. Then Oprah and Les Brown have taught me that I must require more of myself, and live out the visions inside of me.

What have been your biggest achievements to date?
I have won awards! Back2Black Inspirational Award 2015; Gold Challenger Award, Ixion Enterprise 2014; Les Brown Protégé 2014; Best Emerging Talent, Southwark Arts Forum 2013; Desmond Tutu Peer Mentor, and Southwark Culture Award 2007. And two years into MPLOYME, we reached out and worked with 785 clients!

What have been your most proud and memorable moments?Winning Star People Award for £15,000 from UnLtd to help deliver our workshops over a 12-month period, and maintaining my business during the set-up period.

What advice/tips would you give to those who are unemployed and wish to start their own business?
Just do it. Be positive. Learn the inside track of business and stick with it in good and bad times

Are there any lessons you’ve learned on your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur? What are they?
Never give up, stay focused and have contracts in place

In your book, ‘100 Ways To Save Money – An Employment Guide’, you provide successful, key money saving tips. What are the common obstacles that individuals face today (in regards to business and employment), and what can they do to overcome them?
The key obstacle is not budgeting on a regular basis. The lack of financial education destroys so many opportunities in business. You write down what you spend and your income received, you can download templates online or write it down on paper.  Once you understand how to budget on what little you have, God will trust you with more.

What has been your best client success story to date?
Ann-Marie Joseph arrived at 8 Steps To Employment, lacking in confidence and very withdrawn. We discovered that Ann-Marie had a talent for cooking and wanted to start up her own food business so we encouraged her, and brainstormed some names during the business start-up session of the workshops. We came up with the name DELISH Catering. Through our resources Ann-Marie gained enough knowledge to begin her micro business plan. MPLOYME booked Ann-Marie’s first paid job! She did a fantastic job and everyone thought the food was superb. Since then MPLOYME have booked her for more events and she won our ‘Enterprise Fair’ and she landed her biggest contract with Blackfrairs Settlement which hosted an event of 80 people. Had it not been for USS funding support Ann-Marie, a local Southwark resident would have slipped through the unemployment net without the tools she needed to start up her business.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
We would like an office, and to employ more staff.

 

For more information about Winsome and MPLOYME, visit: www.mployme.org

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