Cisco, RBS and Balfour Beatty are among the businesses backing X-Forces’ new 'Big Business Supporting Small Business' initiative.
X-Forces, an award-winning social enterprise that helps members of the Armed Forces community to gain enterprise skills and start their own businesses, last night launched its new Big Business Supporting Small Business initiative at a roundtable reception and dinner at the House of Lords.
The objective of the initiative is to highlight the mutual benefits that can be achieved by larger corporations having a closer and more collaborative relationship with start-ups to facilitate mutual growth, promote the merits of greater supply chain diversity, encourage knowledge exchange and connect people.
Ren Kapur MBE, CEO and founder of X-Forces, said: “It’s proven that Big Business supporting younger start-ups and scale-ups is beneficial to both organisations. Through Knowledge Exchange with larger companies, entrepreneurs and small business owners can gain invaluable expertise and understanding from industry experts and professionals.
"By opening up supply chain policies to smaller enterprises, larger companies can also gain dynamic, innovative and effective new suppliers that add real value to the bottom line. Big Business can also play a significant part in helping X-Forces entrepreneurs by offering mentoring or access to important networking opportunities.”
Last night’s reception at the House of Lords was hosted by Lord Young, patron of X-Forces and former advisor to the Prime Minister on enterprise. Some of the most well-known brands in the UK were in attendance to put their support behind the launch of the Big Business supporting Small Business initiative, including: RBS, Dell EMC, Balfour Beatty, Rolls Royce Defence Aerospace, Tesco, Interserve, Cisco, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, HS2, MoD, Crown Commercial Service, Kilfrost, The Military Mutual, Thales, ATOS and Atkins.
Lord Young of Graffham said: “This initiative is designed to both expand our existing activities and to ensure that the skills of many ex-members of the Armed Forces are not wasted. The help and support of Big Business is imperative to the continued success of X-Forces in its active bid to ensure start-ups and scale ups within the military community get all the help and support they require to succeed.”
Recent House of Commons research stated that one in seven people are self-employed. The expectation is that at some point during their career, they will also move between employment and self-employment. Enterprise skills are, therefore, becoming increasingly important for both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs within organisations.
Alison Rose, CEO of commercial and private banking at RBS, said: “It is our firm belief that it is only right that the members of the armed forces who have given and continue to give so much, are looked after in this way.
“Together with Ren and the team from X-Forces, we are proud to support more and more people from a military background into Enterprise, continuing their outstanding contribution to society. Having entered into our second year of being a corporate partner with X-Forces, we work together to seek new and innovative initiatives to support this community through education, events and social media content.
“This support will be of particular relevance throughout the Brexit process where the only certainty is uncertainty. We are using this time to urge our customers to take time to strengthen brands, bolster marketing strategies, fine-tune products and most importantly understand clearly the needs of their customers. We are getting this message out through our Accredited Women in Business ambassadors as well as the unique network of Business Growth Enablers who seek to be the heart of each local business community in the UK.”
Aaron Reid, sustainable supply chain manager at Balfour Beatty, added: “As an extension of our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, we’re partnering with X-Forces to support ex-military owned businesses to compete for contracts in our supply chain.
“Balfour Beatty encourages supplier diversity and currently has a supply chain that consists of a large proportion of SME and minority owned businesses having spent £1.4bn with SME’s and £118m with women owned businesses last year. We see reaching out to ex-military owned businesses as the next logical step in improving diversity in our supply chain talent pool. Ultimately, we want to work with the best of all suppliers and to do this we need to tackle and remove any barriers that may be preventing us from doing so.”
Recognised as one of the most successful business start-up facilitator organisations in the UK, X-Forces has helped launch 905 new entrepreneurs since its inception in July 2013, and has provided £8,652,875 in seed funding to kick-start and support business enterprises within the ex forces community.