Enterprise learner Kerry Hector took part in an innovative scheme run by IOEE Enterprise Academy GGT Solutions on behalf of her social housing provider, A2Dominion Housing Association. The initiative gave her the skills, knowhow and funds to develop MovieMobil - a brilliant social enterprise that takes cinema into communities. We chatted to Kerry about MovieMobil and her journey from enterprise learner to fully fledged social entrepreneur.
Kerry Hector, 34, is a resident of A2Dominion Housing Association in the London borough of Croydon. Over the summer of 2015, A2Dominion sent its thousands of residents an email - about a new scheme it was delivering via GGT Solutions. The email appealed for residents with a business idea that could help young people in their local community to get in touch for the opportunity to receive £5000 funding to back them up. Kerry was someone with the very beginnings of an idea already stirring in her mind, as she recalls:
“My 16-year-old daughter often wanted to go to the cinema. I’d thought before that if there was a bus that rocked up downstairs, then all the children on the estate could just go on it without paying travel costs and the additional vendor costs, for refreshments. It was just a fleeting idea but when I got the email I thought maybe it could be more.”
Kerry responded to the email she’d received and joined the GGT Solutions programme in September 2015. The programme Kerry had enrolled on was a six-month initiative. Each Saturday, she and around 15 other A2Dominion residents attended workshops designed to enhance their entrepreneurial skills and help them develop their individual business plans. Her fellow residents’ ideas covered areas as diverse as counselling services, events management, private tutoring and an advocacy service for people with English as a second language.
The programme culminated with a Dragon’s Den style event in March 2016, at which five finalists pitched their carefully honed enterprise ideas, each hoping to take home the £5000 business funding. Kerry was successful at this event and secured £5000 to invest in MovieMobil, a mobile cinema bus that takes film into communities and creates an opportunity for face-to-face socialising, specifically for children and young people. The enterprise learner, who has also received ongoing enterprise mentoring support from the GGT team, explained her enterprise concept to us:
“MovieMobil is designed to make the cinema more accessible and more affordable to young people, particularly those in disadvantaged communities. But it’s not just about cost because there are lots of cheap ways to watch movies these days. For me, nothing beats the magic of the cinema experience and this is a way of bringing that experience to more young people.”
MovieMobil has a capacity of 31, is wheelchair accessible and has on board refreshments, just like in any cinema so it also has a commercial side and can be hired for private parties, weddings, festivals and other events. Additionally, Kerry has worked hard to reach out to corporate organisations who can use the bus as a luxury mobile cinema. Kerry explains how the two sides of the enterprise work together:
“Businesses can use the bus for events, team-building workshops, delivering presentations… all sorts of different activities. We’ll also offer them the chance to sponsor screenings in disadvantaged communities, either subsidising them, where the young people are charged a small entrance fee, or funding a full screening.”
MovieMobil’s central objective is to offer screenings that are more affordable than a visit to the local cinema and the films screened on-board are new DVD/Blu-ray releases, plus the latest films to be streamed online. Some of the events taking place on MovieMobil are charity screenings and Kerry partners with various organisations, who may foot licensing costs themselves to screen movies. She explains:
“We believe film is a great way for children to learn and engage at school and will partner with Into Film this month, screening a movie at one of our local schools during their Media and Arts Week. This will be a great opportunity for us to showcase what we can do when we work together with other organisations to bring the magical world of movie directly to young people.”
Right now, Kerry plans to primarily service the Croydon community, but she also has ambitious plans to ultimately take her unusual social enterprise further afield, eventually building a fleet of buses, with one in every London borough or certainly in each region. She has recently gone down to part-time hours in her job in internal communications for Virgin Atlantic, to free up time to focus on MovieMobil. Right now, she’s filling almost every role on the bus, from arranging events to ushering audiences to their seats. However, as well as getting some help from her mum, who, helpfully, is a qualified bus driver, Kerry credits GGT Solutions with setting her on the road to success:
“GGT has been absolutely pivotal in bringing my idea to full fruition. They helped me work out what I needed to do to make this happen by breaking the process of business planning down into bite-sized chunks. Georgina and Lennox Thomas, who run GGT Solutions, are entrepreneurs themselves. They’ve been there and they shared with us the life skills they’d gained along the way.”