Work began in July last year when the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) joined forces with the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) to launch Mentorsme.co.uk, the national mentoring portal. At the time, the Government made three pledges to:
- Make it easier for people to find a business mentor.
- Increase the supply of business mentors.
- Stimulate a greater demand for using mentors.
Since then, the number of mentoring organisations on the portal has risen from 42 to over 100, and through them there is now access to around 11,000 mentors. The site is proving popular, with the BBA’s statistics showing there were over 100,000 visits to the site in the last year.
The work to recruit volunteer business mentors is also proving successful. Over 12,000 people have now signed up to the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative’s (SFEDI) Get Mentoring scheme, which has pledged to recruit and train 15,000 business mentors. So far over 7,000 people have been trained and they are now being encouraged to become part of mentoring organisations on the mentorsme portal and start mentoring through their own networks.
Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said:
“Mentoring is a vital part of helping entrepreneurs start and grow their business as people want to get support from someone who has been there and done it before. We know that people who use support such as the type they’d receive from a mentor are more likely to survive and prosper.
“A year ago, we pledged to encourage more people to use a business mentor and to increase the supply of volunteer mentors recruited from the business community, which we have achieved.
“The Government remains committed to working with partners to develop the network of business mentors, who contribute so much to the growth of the small business community. There is still much work to be done, and we have aspirations to recruit and train thousands more business mentors who can help companies grow and boost the UK economy.”
To accompany this push, the BBA has met the commitment of providing 1,000 trained volunteer business mentors, who are now accessible through mentoring organisations on the portal.
Big businesses have also recognised the benefits that business mentoring schemes can bring to their own organisations, at the same time as helping smaller businesses grow and prosper.
New schemes to recruit volunteer business mentors have been launched by Hewlett Packard and Mott MacDonald, who are joining the likes of Virgin Media and A.F Blakemore & Sons, in collaboration with the Enterprise and Diversity Alliance (EDA), which already run established volunteer mentoring programmes.
As part of the aim to raise the profile of support available for entrepreneurs, the Government is running the Business in You campaign alongside the private sector. The campaign is helping even more people to find out about mentoring and how it can have a positive effect on businesses.
Performance Engineered Solutions Ltd in Sheffield, Yorkshire, is a growing design company and has benefited from the experience of a mentor.
Co-founder Mike Maddock said:
“We wanted to get a mentor so they would be able to challenge some of the decisions we were making. Our mentor helped to establish where we were going, what our strategy for the next three to five years was, how we were looking to fund that strategy and what our expectations for growth and sales were. Those are things we kept promising ourselves we would do, but when you are busy working in the here and now of your business, you need somebody to really tie you down and make you focus on those things.”
The Government aims to have a network of 26,000 mentors by September 2012. To sign up to Get Mentoring visit www.getmentoring.org and to find out about finding a business mentor, visit www.mentorsme.co.uk.
The Government has also launched the £82.5 million StartUp Loan scheme that will provide young people aged 18-24 with a range of business support, including mentoring, as well access to a small amount of capital to help start their business. To find out more visit www.startupbritain.org/loans.
Note to editors:
1. Get Mentoring is a public/private-sector partnership, grant assisted by BIS and GEO and led by SFEDI (The Small Firms Development Initiative Limited). SFEDI is the UK expert and Standards Setting Body for business enterprise and enterprise support (www.sfedi.co.uk). They are working with over 140 business and trade bodies to deliver Get Mentoring.
2. Trained mentors are deployed through www.mentorsme.co.uk, the UK’s national gateway, operated by the British Bankers’ Association, for businesses looking for mentoring services.
3. This year the Government is running the Business in You campaign to encourage more people to start or grow their business throughout 2012 using a range of existing support services, such as business mentoring. More information is available at businessinyou.bis.gov.uk.
4. Case studies of companies in your local area that have benefited from business mentoring are available on request from the BIS press office.
5. Hewlett Packard has launched a mentoring programme which connects staff and retired staff with companies looking for mentors. The volunteers will all receive formal training. Hewlett Packard is aiming to recruit 120 mentors by the end of 2013 that will provide mentoring for SMEs.
6. Mott Macdonald's business mentoring programme is a pilot involving eight of their senior partners located around the country who will mentor entrepreneurs in their local community. Mott MacDonald mentors have a wealth of experience in a wide range of business activity and leadership roles. They are able to share their knowledge and expertise in areas from engineering, training and development, and IT to finance and management consultancy.
7. Virgin Media already support SMEs through a range of mentoring schemes. These include peer to peer support and informal mentoring through a digital community of 2,500 start up businesses and business advice through video and blog content online. To find out more visit www.virginmediapioneers.com.
8. The Enterprise and Diversity Alliance (EDA) is a new-generation response to transforming communities and corporations through various activities including peer to peer mentoring. The EDA facilitates the engagement of large companies with growth-oriented (and community-minded) businesses from diverse communities. The EDA’s nationally-recognised initiative with A.F. Blakemore & Son Ltd and the 12/8 small business network highlights mutual benefits of this approach to mentoring and diversity.
9. The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.' It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:
· To create the most competitive tax system in the G20;
· To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business;
· To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy;
· To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.
Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.
10. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See http://www.bis.gov.uk/newsroom for more information.