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Mentoring for Growth launches national scheme following successful pilot in Greater Birmingham

Mentoring for Growth – which pairs leaders of ambitious SMEs with experienced business mentors – has launched nationally following a highly successful pilot in the Greater Birmingham and Manchester areas.

Hosted in Birmingham, the launch event was attended by more than 140 business leaders from some of the UK’s leading large businesses and growing SMEs. Speakers included Tim Pile, Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, and Saqib Bhatti, its Board Director for Growing Businesses and representing SMEs. The event was also attended by Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of Be the Business, and Arunima Dhar, Programme Lead from GSK.

Mentoring for Growth is run in partnership with Growth Hubs throughout the country. During its pilot , GBSLEP’s Growth Hub identified SMEs with high growth potential that would benefit from mentoring, and matched these local business leaders with mentors from market-leading companies. One Birmingham-based business that participated has already increased its turnover by 25%, demonstrating the tangible benefits of the programme.

The programme has been so successful that it’s now being launched in London and the North East, with increased mentoring opportunities for companies in Greater Birmingham and Manchester. Some 150 mentors have signed up against a target of 100 for 2018-2019, with 40 opting to take part in the GBSLEP region.

Mentoring for Growth is managed by Be the Business, a new business-led organisation created to close the UK’s productivity gap. The programme is supported by 13 leading companies: Accenture, Amazon, BAE Systems, Be the Business, BT, Cisco, EY, GSK, John Lewis Partnership, KPMG, McKinsey, Siemens UK and Sharing in Growth. Between them, these companies have committed over 130 senior executives to the programme.

Tim Pile commented:

“GBSLEP has supported Mentoring for Growth to ensure that emerging business leaders across Greater Birmingham have the right skills and guidance to develop their companies – helping to drive sustainable economic growth.

“Our team at GBSLEP matched mentors and mentees based on their business objectives, knowledge and skills. We really value the high level of participation from our mentors, who shared invaluable expertise with SMEs wanting to maximise their growth potential. Early indications are that the pilot has been incredibly positive, with everyone gaining a great deal from the experience.”

Watch a film of the launch event below:

Mentoring for Growth case study

L G Davis was set up in 1962 as a family business that provides a one-stop shop for all printing needs. Liz Smith, the managing director, joined the mentoring programme to gain an external view on the business to assess which changes could be implemented to drive improvements and productivity.

Smith commented:

“I know our business so well and we have a lot of long-term employees. This is great for experience, customer continuity and product knowledge – but innovative ideas and discussions can be lost.”

David Low from GSK was introduced to Smith to provide a sounding board and guidance, they hit it off immediately. From the very beginning, Low’s experience was positive.

“It became very clear from the start of the mentoring that Liz and I would get on. We very quickly agreed that daily ‘clutter’ was holding the organisation back from its true potential.”

Smith added:

“From the first conversation with David, I realised that we would get on. He is very thought provoking, probing and has an eye for detail. He is also incredibly knowledgeable about manufacturing processes and best practice.

“A massive positive is that we have had our best year for over a decade. We achieved last year’s turnover in 11 months and have made a profit for the year. We have also been able to buy another niche business through the cash generated in the improved profitability, which will further enhance L G Davis. It has been a great experience, I feel privileged to have been invited onto the programme, and the business has benefited.”