Queen’s Crescent Market Entrepreneurship Programme

The Queen’s Crescent Market Entrepreneurship Programme, a non-profit initiative funded by the local council and charitable trusts, ran for 2 years with the aim of empowering unemployed people in severe financial hardship to start their own business and become financially independent. Sima Awad managed the project and worked with the local community centre and the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) to develop a bespoke training programme which provided participants with the skills and tools needed to start a small business.  Those who successfully completed the training were invited to harness their new entrepreneurial skills on a street market in North London.

The impact of this project on the community was phenomenal. It positively transformed the lives of numerous participants, many of whom signed off state benefits.  At the same time it revived a struggling street market and contributed to improving the local economy. Due to its uniqueness this project earned the endorsement of the National Association of British Markets Authorities (NABMA) and was also nominated for an ERSA award.


The biggest challenge facing the markets industry is to attract new traders and, having attracted them, to properly equip them to create a successful business. Whilst lots of markets provide support to new traders the Entrepreneurship Programme at Queen's Crescent Market has a proven track record of success and provides a model that other markets should adopt for their own traders.”

Graham Wilson OBE, CEO, NABMA


A report on the future of street markets aired on the BBC Radio 4 ‘You and Yours’ programme and featured Sima Awad and Graham Wilson.


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The project caught the attention of Chuka Umunna MP, former Shadow Business Secretary, who was responsible for launching Small Business Saturday UK – an initiative to support small independent businesses – and this film of the project was used in their campaign to help promote small businesses nationally.

Mr Umunna visited the market to see the results for himself and specifically to meet some of the graduates of the training scheme who were trading successfully.

Market Times Magazine Article

Sky News Article

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A few words from participants

“Before the course I had no confidence in my abilities to set up my own business with a small workshop. I imagined that it would be extremely complicated with mountains of paperwork and that financially I'd be completely on my own.

The course changed my attitude towards that outlook completely. It was very clear about each step of what was needed to start a business and become a trader. I was amazed at how simple it was. I came away feeling very confident and excited about the future and after the course I felt very supported by Sima Awad and her team with mentoring and support sessions.

Altogether, I can safely say without a doubt my life has been transformed in the most positive way.”

Joe Hanson


“This has changed things for me.  Sima has been my mentor and has helped get it all started for us”

Amy Jayne Adams


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