Rachel Rutherford, student occupational therapist and social entrepreneur
London South Bank University has given Rachel Rutherford the chance to use her skills to help other people while developing her own business
Second year BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy student Rachel Rutherford came to London South Bank University (LSBU) for its high employability statistics, prime location and wide range of placement options. She soon found that she'd also get the opportunity to fulfil her aspiration of starting her own social-impact company.
From inspirational idea to social enterprise
Rachel always wanted to work for herself and to make a difference in society.
"I thought about how I can best use my skills to help other people in a marketable way. Once I had an idea, I started small to test the market and immediately started looking for people to help me," she recalls.
The idea became Soap Stuff, a social enterprise that reduces long term unemployment by running programmes that teach people suffering with mental illness how to design and make handmade cosmetic products, as well as how to devise and execute a sales strategy.
"Working can be very beneficial for health and well-being, but going back to work after a long period of unemployment can be tricky. We help participants gain work experience, a reference, confidence, self-esteem and transferable professional skills," explains Rachel.
Embracing entrepreneurship and opportunity
Rachel has embraced all the opportunities available to her as a student entrepreneur from LSBU's Student Enterprise team. She is currently on the Entrepreneurship in Action scheme (now called Spark), which provides funding, office space and advice to student entrepreneurs developing their business ideas while they study.
"I have access to some useful, good quality workshops and one-to-one support. The Student Enterprise team has been incredibly helpful in putting me in touch with other entrepreneurs and organisations that can help me, whether through personal introductions or great networking events," she says.
Rachel recently won second place in the Idea category in this year's Make It Happen competition. She also sells Soap Stuff products at the LSBU stall at Lower Marsh Market and has traded in two pop up markets on campus.
"I have received start-up funds and office space from the Student Enterprise team, as well as a lot of support and encouragement. They regularly let me know about local events that may be of interest to me such as networking events and business workshops," she says.