Our philosophy is to create local communities of businesses that can work together and support each other. We have found that particularly in the early stages of starting up, specific groups within a community need a different style of training and support. To meet this need we have created a number of bespoke courses designed to bring our 3M© business model to different audiences in a way that meets their particular requirements.

Working with an amazing support charity, Status Employment, Tree Shepherd is a founding partner in Croydon Council’s exciting new Supported Self-Employment Academy (SSEA) which opened its doors in October 2017.

The academy aims to give disabled people the skills and the support to help them to start their own business. Together, we are supporting 16 budding entrepreneurs who though living with an incredible range of disabilities from blindness to MS have the energy and commitment to start their own business. And it’s the energy, commitment and integrity that stands out most in this class.

The business ideas range from creating a specially designed toy for autistic children through floristry to animal care, e-commerce, alternative health therapies and even lorry driving. Ideas are one thing though – it’s determination that will make the difference. And when we asked Monica for a song title that spoke for her ambition her choice caught the emotion of the entire room – when without hesitation she said “Something inside so strong” by Labi Siffre.

We seek to work with that inner strength and this programme starts with an intense eight-week course and continues with one year of additional advice and support from us along with mentoring from local companies. Uniquely, the course is funded through Direct Payments administered by Croydon Council.
Croydon Councillor Andrew Rendle, the council’s Champion for Autism, came to the opening session and told the students.

“I’m so pleased to see this amazing project get off the ground as disabled people have so much to offer the world of business. Autism is my area of interest and the autistic mind is a great untapped resource and all around the world we’ve seen autistic people get to the very top, so why not here in Croydon. With the support the council is giving I can’t wait to see these amazing determined people succeed in starting and growing their own business.”