Thrive Street Manchester: showcasing the best of British entrepreneurs

18th July 2023

Small businesses are critical to the UK economy. They make up 99% of all businesses in the country, employ more than 16 million people, and have a combined turnover of over £1.4 trillion.

But in a period of rapid digital innovation, many budding entrepreneurs are struggling to adapt.

While 31,000 new small and micro businesses were founded in 2022, less than a quarter of the smallest businesses (with 10 or fewer employees) expect their performance to increase in the next year. It’s clear that in the digital economy, utilising the right digital tools will be essential if small business owners want to thrive. For these entrepreneurs, knowing where to start and understanding what tools are right to use is the vital first step.

To address this, Mastercard’s Strive UK programme is helping level the digital playing field and create a more inclusive economy. An initiative by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, the programme aims to empower hundreds of thousands of micro and small businesses in the UK through free guidance, helpful tools, and personalised, one-to-one mentoring.

In June, our team worked alongside Mastercard to bring Strive UK to Manchester in its 2023 edition of ‘Thrive Street’ – a pop-up high street allowing small business owners to access prime retail space for free – in Manchester’s Arndale Centre. Over the course of six days, the campaign brought together small business owners and experts, and celebrated the innovation and creativity of the small business community.

Ahead of the pop-up opening, we hosted a series of masterclasses at Colony, a co-working space in Manchester, with the aim of providing small business owners with insights and advice. We invited a diverse group of business experts, owners, and inspirational speakers to speak on everything from social media and storytelling to gathering data on a tight budget, with Holly Moore, CEO of Anything is Possible, hosting the event. The day concluded with a networking session for participants to connect and exchange ideas.

The next day, retail champion Mary Portas cut the ribbon at the Thrive Street pop-up in the Arndale Centre, together with Kelly Devine, President of UK&I for Mastercard, welcoming the local community to the event that showcased the products of some of the area’s finest micro businesses.

Six of Manchester’s small business owners were able to display and sell their products alongside big brands in the Arndale. Jennifer Bailey, founder and CEO of Calla Shoes, a shoe boutique that exhibited at the event, highlighted how important the initiative was for raising awareness of the contributions small businesses make. “It’s an amazing opportunity that a small business like mine would never normally get”, she said.

Other attendees included Shadow Minister for Business and Industry, Bill Esterson MP, who was blown away by the “entrepreneurial spirit” on display at the Thrive Street launch.

Thrive Street serves as an example of Strive UK’s commitment to nurturing small businesses and entrepreneurs. With the goal to offer financial support and expert guidance to entrepreneurs across the UK, the program has placed particular emphasis on empowering female and ethnic-minority-led enterprises. Strive UK’s work is made possible through collaboration with its partners, Be the Business, Digital Boost and Enterprise Nation. Through this collective effort, Strive UK aims to create a thriving business ecosystem, uplifting the aspirations of small businesses and helping them pave the way to long-term success.

Share This Story

Latest From Seven

See more