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#BAME Business Bootcamp in Stevenage

Onwards to Stevenage!

Hot on the heels of the “Business Bootcamp” last month at the Pomegranate Centre, Welwyn Garden City, comes the Stevenage Business Bootcamp!

We will be delivering two training sessions for future Stevenage entrepreneurs from the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities (BAME).

Why a BAME Business Bootcamp?

The two sessions will equip local people with the skills to set and develop a business.  The report  A “Portrait of modern Britain said “there are higher aspirations to start-up amongst ethnic minority groups, especially Black African (35%) and Black Caribbean (18%) groups (compared with 10% for White British), but ‘conversion’ remains very low.” – it is this issue that the Red Potato Business Bootcamp on the 18th and 20th June, will address.

We will be running some taster sessions at the Stevenage Day on the 12th June.  Red Potato will be in the big tent with Herts CDA and Stevenage World Forum – which will be cosy!  So if you are in Stevenage, Herts on the 12th June do come and say “hello”!

SWF Business Bootcamp


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Mentoring for life: Are troubled teenagers and business entrepreneurs made from the same stuff?

When it comes to mentoring it can mean very different things to different people: ranging from social befriending through to a strict focus on shared objectives mentoring.   Befriending may include things like helping someone to take small steps to overcome a fear of open spaces for example.   The warmth, encouragement and support from befriending can be crucial in helping, as sometimes statutory services are more interested in measuring the output of their work and encouraged to maintain a professional distance from “clients”.     Other benefits such as building confidence may occur following from those first steps outside the home, but in the case of befriending this isn’t the aim.

In my opinion, strict enterprise mentoring involves working with the client on agreed objectives which are stated and agreed from the start – for instance how to prepare a business for trade sale, or entry to a new market.  Any social relationship achieved is incidental to the business objectives.  SFEDI (Sector Skills body for Enterprise) says that mentor/mentee relationship should enable the mentee to “develop goals that will have a positive impact on their business enterprise”.    There is a clear focus and aim for the mentoring relationship.

In contrast to the business objectives of enterprise mentoring, community mentoring is about helping adults and children develop as individuals, so that they find their true self.  To do this the mentor needs to understand their own personal boundaries.  Without an understanding of their identity, the mentor can end up confusing the mentee about who is the client!

So having established the differences between enterprise and community mentoring, I’m now going to say in many ways they are also very similar.  For instance building a relationship based on equality, openness and trust is common to all types of mentoring.    Perhaps less obvious though is the possibility that those same troubled young people could with the right form of guidance and mentoring  go onto to set up and run the next generation of enterprises.   Even if you ignore the other reasons to get mentoring, the powerful impact of mentoring on life chances and entrepreneurialism, should be a strong motivator for business people to get mentoring.

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Transformation in the Voluntary Sector

I am not an expert on the voluntary sector and don’t pretend to be.

But clearly the sector is in the process of massive changes.   The NCVO published a best practice guide for local authorities and the voluntary and community sector.   At a time when the prospects for the voluntary sector are “shrink, merge or go bust” it is all the more important that public sector organisations recognise the value of the voluntary sector and also the pressures that the voluntary sector are facing.     

Adherence to the CLG guidance on community right to challenge and giving the volutary sector a fair deal when imposing cuts  is only part of the answer.   Having a genuine, authentic discussion with the voluntary sector is what is needed, not megaphone diplomacy.