Award winning entrepreneur, Safiya Hussain is working alongside the business support organisation Enterprise4All to alert a new generation of potential business owners to the possibilities and rewards of self employment.
Safiyah is the founder of NoParkingFine.com, a Preston based business that specialises in helping people to appeal against wrongly issued fines.
In May this year, only 12 months after conceiving the idea for her new enterprise, she was named Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2011 Fusion Awards, which celebrate multiculturalism and recognise individual contributions to the improvement of North West communities.
Now at the head of a very successful business – which is thought to be the first and only parking fine specialist in the UK – Safiya is embarking on a series of presentations to schools and other groups in an effort to make younger people aware of the opportunities that are available to them.
The first of these took place on Monday 4th July at the Tauheedul Islam Girls High School in Blackburn as part of its Enterprise Week.
After Safiya’s visit, head of year Bilkis Bux said: “Safiya visited our school during Enterprise Week and spoke to us about her route to becoming an entrepreneur.
"Her story inspired our young learners to aspire to become successful Muslim business women. We look forward to working with her again in the future.”
While speaking at the school, Safiya revealed how she had started the business after receiving what she considered to be an unjust fixed penalty notice. As a qualified solicitor, she was well placed to investigate the validity of the fine and she was subsequently able to have it overturned.
This prompted her to carry out more research and she quickly realised that she had the makings of a viable business.
Safiya said: “Having received an unfair fine and witnessed for myself the complexity of the appeals process, it led me to wonder how many other people found themselves in a similar position and how many of them would struggle to respond with a proper appeal. "There are about ten million parking fines issued in England and Wales each year and as many as two thirds of these could be legally invalid but, despite this, very few people appeal. That’s where I decided I could help.
“Launching this business has been an education for me but, along the way, I have had valuable help from various business support organisations such as the University of Central Lancashire.
"There is a lot of assistance available to aspiring entrepreneurs and this certainly makes it easier to take the first steps into self employment.
“I find running my own company very rewarding. If I hadn’t received that parking fine, it’s quite possible that I would simply have continued to pursue my original career path, working in the legal profession and doing what I’d always expected to do, without really ever questioning whether there were other options.
"Now, I’m doing something that’s new, interesting and challenging and I’m happy to be helping Enterprise4All to get across the message that starting your own business can be a positive and life-changing decision".
This is a sentiment echoed by Enterprise4All Chief Executive Ilyas Munshi, who said: “We’re really pleased that Safiya is helping us to reach out to young people in the region. They’ll be the future drivers of our economy so it’s important they’re aware that entrepreneurship is a career path well worth considering.
"It’s easy to become blinkered about job prospects and just to head in the direction you’re expected to go but, as Safiya demonstrates so clearly, you can create new opportunities for yourself. If you’ve got a good idea and you’re willing to take advantage of the help that’s on offer, self employment can be an excellent choice".
Enterprise4All delivers a range of free and publicly-funded business support programmes throughout the North West.
These provide tailored, one-to-one assistance and advice for the owners and managers of new start-up businesses and more established companies with significant potential for growth.
E4All also delivers free specialist support for small and medium sized enterprises in the manufacturing and food and drink sectors.
More information about Enterprise4All and the support it offers to aspiring entrepreneurs can be obtained by visiting www.enterprise4all.co.uk or by calling 0845 607 0786.
More details about Safiya and her business can be found at www.noparkingfine.co.uk.