Meet the modern social media and ethical sales trainer founder of The Growing Club CIC, networking with her women colleagues, in groups and on a one-to-one basis, who want to grow their business or organisation, whilst maintaining a well-balanced life.
Jane Binnion, Founder and Managing Director of The Growing Club CIC says, “As a social media trainer I found myself working with lots of women running micro-businesses and I saw the same patterns; women isolated, lacking support, working long hours, juggling many roles and not making enough money. Having experienced two male mentors myself I realised they did not understand what it was like for a woman to run a small business, because business education was designed by and for men. I knew we needed a new model, a non-hierarchical model where women learnt together and supported each other as a peer group. We ran our first programme with ten women in 2016, and the rest, as they say, is history!”.
Residing in Lancaster in North West England, Jane shares her childhood where she grew up in a working-class family, being one among the 4 children, where there was more week than money. Even though being a bright and intelligent student, she struggled at school where she wasn’t even confident enough due to a condition called ‘dyspraxic’, a common disorder that affects movement and coordination. After a few years, Jane was accepted at her preferred university, where she studied sociology. She then trained as a youth and community worker and worked as a youth worker for over 20 years. She reminds, “It was a shoulder injury that left me, as a single mum, in financial hardship, unable to drive because of the injury, I was unable to get well-paid work and so, fearing we would lose our home, I chose self-employment in social media, enabling me to work from home as my shoulder healed. But now being a single mum of an amazing daughter, I have authored two books, a children’s book and a book about ethical sales. and I have a rescue dog, cat and goldfish!”.
Jane’s initial research into the lives of women in business led to the book “The Super Women of Lancashire”, which told the real stories of 26 women who chose entrepreneurship. This inspiring book is ideal for any woman thinking of setting up in business or anyone who trains, coaches or mentors women in business. The Growing Club CIC is a social enterprise providing a fantastic range of skills training and opportunities for women, using a creative and alternative peer support model. They work with women who are not in employment, women who want to start a business and women already running a small to medium business who want to improve their enterprise and leadership skills. They even offer paid opportunities as all of the trainers are women who have been through various programmes, well versed in understanding the ethos for the women participants. Inspired by UN SDG 8.3, Decent Work, the organisation focuses on building women’s unique skills to earn their living so that all women are valued. They firmly believe in one of Kofi Annan’s quotes “When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life“.
Unexpected hurdles and challenges were a part of the organisation’s growth. At first, they were not given much importance by any of the business growth providers, because they didn’t consider women running micro-businesses seriously. Initially, they had to just build the organisation and there was no enroute for accessing support and resources at that time. However, with persevering minds, the team geared up to strive for the importance of work, to help women who can change their lives and become the best person from wherever they are. In 2020 the team had to focus on the first 3-year grant to cover core costs, and that made a huge difference to the emerging firm. It’s no wonder that Covid has been a massive challenge for the firm, where women had to carry the heaviest burdens upon them and funding has been diverted for all of their untiring efforts. Jane shares the upcoming challenge of the organisation that was to find a resource to establish a women’s enterprise training centre.
Jane shared, “When people hear about our work, follow the stories of the women we work with, and get to meet them, they are really touched and inspired by what we do. Most of the women who come to us now do so as a result of a recommendation from a woman they know who has been on one of our programmes. That is, of course, the best kind of marketing. We started 6 years ago this month, and women from that very first cohort are still involved with us, because they have found a supportive community of like-minded women with diverse experiences”.
Here is a glimpse of Jane’s motivation for the revolutionary women in the evolving world. “I love what I do, it always feels an honour to support women on their journey and see their confidence grow. Of course, I learn from each and every one of them. It can be very emotional at times, but it is the most fulfilling work I have ever done. Whoever you are, whatever role you play, life is so much better when you have women peers cheering you on”.