A new £3.25 million Jewish hub for the employment and business world is preparing to open its doors later this year.
Work Avenue’s glass-fronted HQ, The Wohl Enterprise Hub, is the culmination of an idea first conceived three years ago, when the organisation formerly known as TrainE-TraidE decided it wanted to expand its network.
“We currently help over 2,000 people every year, whether it’s career guidance, finding a job or setting up their own business,” said Shraga Zaltzman, Work Avenue’s charismatic boss. “Due to overwhelming demand we are able to support 6,000 people, and need this new building to do it”
The new three-storey Redbourne Ave building, built on the site of the old Finchley Central Synagogue, is a state-of-the-art complex comprising 60-desk incubator space for start-up businesses. There are also meeting rooms, conference rooms, break-out pods, ‘hot-desk’ areas and a café, all of which should be ready to open in December.
Major donors included the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, whose founders Maurice and Vivienne Wohl believed in the principle of what Maimonides calls the highest form of charity – helping someone to help themselves by starting their own business or finding gainful employment.
Support also came from businesses Work Avenue helped grow, in what Zaltzman describes as a “virtuous circle,” whereby “those we helped yesterday help us today and tomorrow”.
The incubator model is similar to that of J-Hub, which works with charities. “People set up here, we help their progression from business idea to getting them on the road, and when their business gets big enough they move on,” says Zaltzman. “In the meantime they grow, because everyone bounces ideas off each other.”
Investors and those working in established businesses will be able to use the building as a base, for meetings around a table or just over coffee, all of which will create a hub for Jewish business, and will increase the size of the network.
Those looking to grow will have the chance to do so, he says, with Dragon’s Den-style evenings to pitch to wealthy investors, ‘speed networking’ events and mentoring opportunities with some of the community’s most successful individuals.
This facility will help Work Avenue expand its network of potential employers and mentors, with more opportunities for those coming through its job readiness programmes. “It is our network of businesses and business people that drives all that we do,” said Zaltzman. “It is this network that enables us to make placements, support people into employment and really help people get on their own two feet. This new hub will enable us to become the Jewish community’s human LinkedIn.”
Work Avenue’s chairman Mark Morris added: “Until now this was just a dream, now it is a reality. When you think of the charitable pillars of our community – the CST for security, JW3 for culture, Jewish Care for the elderly – you need a pillar supporting people in becoming financially self-sufficient. That’s what this will be.”