Barking business hub launches independent company

Councillors and entrepreneurs celebrate the CIC launch at Barking Enterprise Centre on Wednesday

Councillors and entrepreneurs celebrate the CIC launch at Barking Enterprise Centre on Wednesday - Credit: Archant

A thriving business hub is going solo after becoming an independent company.

Barking Enterprise Centre (BEC) will no longer need council funding after launching as a Community Interest Company (CIC) on Wednesday.

The move means the centre – which accommodates and mentors small businesses across two sites in Barking – will operate independently from now on, with all profits going back into the community.

Speaking at the Cambridge Road centre, CEO Karen West-Whylie said it was an “opportunity we couldn’t not take”.

Councillors were also there to celebrate the new phase for BEC, which has helped set up 287 businesses in just four years.

Speaking to the assembled businesses and councillors, Barking and Dagenham council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “It’s not about the investment of the council, it’s not about big business – it’s about the person.

“From its conception it’s now taken the next steps of independence – a bit like when the children leave home.”

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Addressing BEC staff and entrepreneurs, he added: “You have the right ethics, you have quality, communality, and most of all you have the drive to succeed.”

As well as housing 48 small businesses in Cambridge Road, the BEC 2 in Wakering Road is also at full capacity with 26 units.

Entrepreneur Henry Obih operates his two Grossdale firms, a caring provider and vocational institute, from the building.

“They have helped me tremendously,” said the 43-year-old, from Hornchurch.

“I was struggling with rent, they were flexible and gave me business support as well. I have got commendable help from them.”

As a CIC, the centre will also be able to expand its network by supporting individuals living and working outside the borough.

Ms West-Whylie added: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to be one of the first council spin-outs in a business of its own.”

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