Bristol-based creative business collective Istoria Group has launched a competition to find a regional, women-owned Micro Business to support as part of its Incubator Hub programme, whereby Istoria Group houses and helps guide fledgling businesses during their initial period of development. The winner will be selected from applications received online, with the launch of the initiative timed to coincide with International Women’s Day 2023.

The lucky winning business will receive rent-free office space for up to four people for a 6-month period at Istoria Group’s Bristol Paintworks HQ, starting 1 June 2023, as well as a free website design and build, a brand critique/refresh and mentorship from the Group’s Chairwoman and Heads of Finance, Marketing and PR.

Lindie Kramers, Chief Marketing Officer for Istoria Group, commented: ‘As a women-owned SME, we’re actively seeking to support another female-founded business in our region. We want to be as inclusive as possible in our search for the right Micro Business and would particularly welcome applications from traditionally under-represented communities in business, whether by age, class or ethnicity, to help promote social mobility and counter current imbalances in opportunity and representation.’

To help target its search, Istoria Group is working with the support two established local organisations – Babbasa  and Black South West Network (BSWN) – to help spread the word and make sure new of the competition offer reaches as diverse and inclusive an audience as possible in the region.

Matt Rogers, Head of Development at Babbasa, said: ‘Many of the young people Babbasa supports are interested in entrepreneurship, and starting their own business is a key way for many young people to access an income that enables them to thrive. We’re pleased to support this fantastic opportunity.’

The winning applicant / business will be selected by a team of five judges:

Sam Rowe, CEO, Istoria Group
Lindie Kramers, CMO, Istoria Group
Sibusiso Tshabalala, Business Support Coordinator, BSWN
Matt Rogers, Head of Development, Babbasa
Cecilia Thirlway, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Bristol

About The Incubator Hub:

The Incubator Hub idea arises out of Istoria Group’s dedication to start-up entrepreneurialism and business mentorship. The Incubator Hub was set up to house and help guide small businesses until they mature and, to date, Istoria Group has successfully helped tgrow and ‘hatch’ two Incubator Hub companies: children’s book publishers i am a bookworm and innovation platform Solverboard, which was purchased in Summer 22 by AIM-listed technology and innovation experts Sopheon (and now rebranded as ‘Acclaim Ideas’) – 

The focus on micro-businesses this time around was inspired by an article on the International Women’s Day’s 2022 website, which noted how often women have a particular gift for spotting opportunity-based gaps in the market for products and services, but how, through lack of capital – which is often generationally-available, gender-biased and slow to adapt to contemporary needs – women often start small, which makes micro-businesses a great area to focus on to aid and encourage new business growth.

Details of Offer:

Istoria Group is offering the competition-winning business free and self-contained office space on the mezzanine level of its Bristol Paintworks HQ for 1-4 people, with dedicated toilets and access to all shared office facilities, from a kitchen to bookable meeting rooms, as well as free electricity and WiFi, for a six-month period from 1 June – 30 November 2023. 

Istoria Group is additionally offering mentorship and in-house creative services as follows:

  •   3 x 1 hour sessions with Istoria Group Chairwoman Claire Menzies concentrating on business growth and entrepreneurialism
  • Free website design and build courtesy of Istoria Group’s digital innovation specialists Tiny Spark 
  • Free brand critique / refresh courtesy of Istoria Group’s branding, retail and hospitality designers Phoenix Wharf
  • 2 x 1 hour sessions with Istoria Group’s Group Finance Director Bryn Isaacs, focusing on financial forecasting, cashflow and budgeting
  • 2 x 1 hour sessions with Istoria Group’s Chief Marketing Officer Lindie Kramers, focusing on marketing strategies
  • 2 x 1 hour sessions on PR and Communications with Istoria Group’s PR Consultant Caroline Collett, plus 500 words of free marketing or press release copy

How to Apply:

Applicants can be a business in any market and at any stage of early growth, as long as female-founded and based in Bristol or the South-West region. 

The deadline for applications is midnight on Wednesday 19 April 2023 and the simple application form can be found at: 

Istoria Group, which last year became a B Corp, says applicants should ideally share at least some of its corporate values, which include the EPIC values (entrepreneurial, personable, intelligent and collaborative), as well as standing for the inclusive and ethical treatment of staff; innovation in business; a strong commitment to sustainability and creative re-use and a commitment to the local Bristol region and economy.

What is a Micro Business?

In the UK, a micro business is defined by Companies House as a business of 1-9 employees, with turnover of less than £632,000 and £316,000 or less on its balance sheet.