Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership
Small businesses across the North East are invited to join a new mentoring scheme pairing senior figures from some of the UK’s biggest companies with ambitious regional SME leaders.
Following a successful pilot phase in Greater Manchester and Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Mentoring for Growth - by business-led organisation, Be the Business - is expanding nationally with a new cohort of North East businesses invited to join the scheme.
Thirteen leading companies (Accenture, Amazon, BAE Systems, Be the Business, BT, Cisco, EY, GSK, John Lewis Partnership, KPMG, McKinsey, Siemens UK and Sharing in Growth) have already signed up to provide over 130 mentors of a calibre seldom accessed by small business leaders. The local programme is being led by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, who have developed a rigorous process to match prospective mentees with the best possible mentor.
Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “The North East is home to one of the fastest growing economies in the UK and we have a huge number of talented SMEs looking to be the big businesses of tomorrow.
“The North East currently has a number of successful mentoring schemes and the addition of the national Mentoring for Growth programme is great news for our region’s businesses as it gives them access to more advice, support and guidance from some of the UK’s best business minds.
“We recognise that mentoring can play a huge role in helping businesses grow and that’s something we’d like to see across the North East.”
New research commissioned by Be the Business* found that 58% of small business leaders in the North East have never had a business mentor. However, those who had been mentored were very positive about the experience:
46% stated it helped them think strategically about their business
22% gained advice on how to get the most out of employees
37% implemented new business processes as a direct result
26% changed their leadership style approach
Only 13% stated that having a mentor did not make a difference to their business
Mentees enrolled in the new scheme will benefit from expert support and advice over a twelve-month period to help them improve the productivity of their firms. Mentors will offer their personal expertise, inspiration and practical advice on a one-to-one basis to help firms overcome any potential barrier to growth. The programme also benefits mentors who are exposed to ambitious, growing small firms.
Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman, Be the Business, said: “Mentoring is a proven way to help ambitious leaders become even more successful, and with Mentoring for Growth, some of the UK’s leading businesses are lending their experience. The feedback from our pilots in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands has been fantastic, so I am delighted that many more SMEs will be able to benefit from being mentored."
Business secretary Greg Clark, said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy which is why our modern Industrial Strategy is building the environment that ensures they continue to thrive.
“Mentoring for Growth delivered fantastic results during its pilot phase and is a great example of what can be achieved when large businesses share their insight with our small businesses to improve their productivity and help them grow.”
Regis Simard, president, pharma supply chain, GSK, said: “Our mentors have been delighted to share their experience with some fantastic SMEs. It’s really a two-way street, with our mentors getting as much back as they give.”
36 mentors supporting 42 mentees in Greater Manchester and Greater Birmingham & Solihull have already proved the benefits of the programme in the six-month pilot scheme.
The new national expansion will start by opening the scheme up to a further 200 mentees who will go through the process of finding the right mentor for them, after which a year-long relationship will start. The programme will continue to expand during 2019 and beyond with thousands more joining as the scheme spreads across the UK.
In the North East, Mentoring for Growth will be delivered through the North East Growth Hub. To find out more and to register interest in the scheme, visit www.northeastgrowthhub.co.uk.
* Research undertaken by YouGov on behalf of Be the Business. 2025 SME decision makers were interviewed between 8 - 19th October 2018.
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