How we began

Rapid Enterprise Development (RED) emerged in the UK from the work of Keith Bates and Guy Turnbull in response to the need to provide better enterprise support options for disabled people. Keith and Guy came together through their work in social firm, social enterprise and co-operative development to redesign the way enterprise support and training was conceptualised.

Keith’s work developed from a supported employment perspective where he had been supporting people with learning disabilities to establish worker co-ops as a way to create alternative routes in employment.  This complimented Guy’s background in Co-operative development, including creating businesses designed to employ disabled people.  The two worked together to open the world of entrepreneurship to a wider audience.  

Originally focusing on training for disabled people to set up their own enterprise, the basis of their approach to job-creation was the RED (Rapid Enterprise Development) workshop which sought to offer an interactive space, support and activities to help disabled people work out the basics of a business idea, feasibility, planning and research.

The RED approach immediately started to have an impact and local authorities, voluntary sector organisations and others quickly saw the benefits of an approach that combined enterprise facilitation with employment support. In recognition of the need to expand the RED offer to raise the capacity, skills and aspirations of support workers, the RED training suite expanded to include workshops around business innovation, assessment and market research.

Whilst the RED workshops remain part of a wider journey for people with learning disabilities and others interested in exploring self-employment and small business ownership, RED continues to engage with the wider policy and infrastructure debate to ensure that supported self-employment becomes a sustainable option for disabled people.