Entrepreneur Dolly Martin has been self-employed since the age of 17; however eight years ago she contacted Five Lamps as she had begun an exciting new business adventure but she required funding in order for her business to grow
At the age of 17, Dolly who is an experienced dancer in all styles of dancing, opened up her first business venture where she was supplying dancers for; nightclubs, bars and hotels throughout the North East of England. In 2007, she decided to change her career and open up a dance studio; Sunderland Dance. The aim of setting up Sunderland Dance was to make dance and fitness accessible to all.
Sunderland Dance opened in February 2007 and by November 2007 it was a Community Interest Company. A community interest company (CIC) is a social enterprise which uses their profits and assets to ensure they are working for the benefit of the community.
In 2010 Dolly won the Best Social Enterprise award at the 11th Annual Women into the Network (WIN) Awards.
Sunderland Dance CIC quickly became popular and Dolly began to receive enquiries from all over the North East, especially in; Schools, community groups and young offender’s institutes. Dolly then decided it was time to expand her CIC to the whole of the North East. However, in order to do this she required some help with funding.
She contacted Five Lamps where she spoke to Bill Erskine, Director of Finance & Economic Development who supported Dolly with an Enterprise Loan for £15,000 towards the expansion of her business.
Through-out the years, North East Dance has continuously grown and expanded and Dolly has continued to work with Five Lamps and Bill Erskine, to ensure she has access to affordable business lending and she has also received help through the Regional Growth Fund with a loan of £50,000.
The Regional Growth Fund is a government backed scheme to support SMEs and social enterprises struggling to access high street bank lending. The aim of the funding is to help to create and safeguard jobs in the area, helping local businesses and the economy grow.
Dolly now employs five full time members of staff and 25 sessional staff who work all over the North East. As well as creating jobs within the North East, Dolly has also created ‘Dance on Prescription’ where people are prescribed dance classes as a replacement for medication to improve a person’s health and well-being.
Dolly also delivers educational programmes to schools which include; lunch time classes, theatre productions, after school classes and also a new initiative aimed at young people called “Dare to be…®” which helps raise awareness of 10 issues including; Racism, Bullying and Drug and Alcohol abuse.
The Business has grown from strength to strength and is continuously expanding in new areas, Dolly said:
“The support we have had from Five Lamps has been fabulous and invaluable for the company. It has inspired and encouraged us to feel confident with our plans for expansion in the future. Without this help we would have really struggled to develop the way we have. This has enabled us to extend our reach to beneficiaries and communities who are often excluded, isolated, disadvantaged or who suffer health inequalities and deprivation”