All our members are people of action, here are just some of the projects from around Great Britain & Ireland

Participants in the 'Launch Reading' event standing in front of a large screen

Rotary club develops budding ​entrepreneurs

Following the Covid lockdown, members of the Rotary Club of Reading Abbey ​were looking for a worthwhile project that would bring together community ​leaders, business partners and institutions in their local community.

What they identified was a need to assist under-represented groups in the ​Reading conurbation who could contribute to the local economy by building and ​growing their own businesses.

The club became aware of such an initiative following a Zoom lecture in January ​2022 which was organised by The Rotary Foundation on a US initiative.

The project was “Launch My City” in which 18 Rotary clubs in different cities ​formed partnerships with local organisations and community leaders to deliver ​training, mentorship, and support for budding entrepreneurs.

The Rotary Club of Reading Abbey set up a working group to explore the ​possibility of delivering a similar programme in the UK and a partnership was ​formed with the founder of the programme Matthew Kane from the Rotary Club ​of North Raleigh North Carolina.

“To date over 70 people have applied to join ​the programme, two group courses have ​been delivered and 30 students have ​successfully graduated from the ​programme and are in the process of ​setting up their own businesses. “

As a result, Launch Reading was created, and critical to these developments was ​the support of local businesses, economic development agencies and Rotary ​District 1090 (Thames Valley).

Over nine months the club team of seven members allocated time and resources ​to cover the key elements of marketing, recruitment, programme delivery, ​partnerships and mentoring to successfully deliver two cohorts of “Launch ​Reading.”

Following an intensive campaign of marketing through the website, Facebook, ​attendance at recruitment fairs, and a poster campaign, it was clear that there ​was demand for the initiative.

The programme was delivered over 10 weeks, with participants attending three-​hour long evening sessions in superb facilities provided by key partners, ​Hammersons, who operate the Oracle shopping centre in Reading.

The content delivery was a mixture of interactive delivery by our experienced ​Rotary business tutors supplemented by business planning software (Liveplan) ​which was used at home by the participants.

Tutors supporting the 'Launch Reading' event gathered around a computer

A Launch Reading tutor group meeting

At the end of the programme all members had produced a fully-prepared ​business plan suitable for pitching to funding partners and given the opportunity ​to apply for a modest start-up grant provided by another supportive partner, the ​Reading Economic Destinations Agency.

A key element of the programme was to encourage networking and supporting ​each individual business. Experienced businessmen and women are now ​providing ongoing mentor support for at least six months.

The range of companies that were developed was varied including vegan ​catering, ethical soaps, English Language online, green health, fruit juice squeeze, ​Spanish for children, carpentry, power consultancy, slim & wellness, cleaning ​services, computer support services and computer animation.

To date over 70 people have applied to join the programme, two group courses ​have been delivered and 30 students have successfully graduated from the ​programme and are in the process of setting up their own businesses.

Total start up grant funding of over £22,000 has been awarded following a 10-​week programme which was demanding despite course members fitting in their ​own domestic, family and work schedules.

For more details, visit the Launch Reading website or email

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