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Inclusive Commonwealth Legacy Programme – Green Sisters

Great Barr-based Green Sisters was founded by sisters Geeta and Reena Salhan. They have been working flat out during lockdown and since to meet demand for their award-winning ‘free-from’ Indian food and make the most of help from the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP).

After discovering my coeliac condition, I had to find a way to eliminate gluten from my diet, writes older sister Geeta.

And from that start three years ago, we have worked night and day to perfect recipes that bring a new edge to Indian home-made snacks and curries.

The demand for healthier and tastier food during lockdown and since has been significant. Many out there have had more time to think about what they are eating and what they should be putting into their bodies when we all need to be in top shape to cope with not just Covid-19 itself, but also the stresses and strains that lockdown has placed us under.

It’s also about eating food you can trust – made form real, carefully sourced ingredients and that hasn’t been mass produced or churned out in the cheapest way possible. That has been a big driver of Green Sisters. As well as being about the quality, it’s about the integrity of the food we create.

In terms of business support and help, we have been privileged at Green Sisters to utilise the support of Joel Blake and the ICLP programme (Inclusive Commonwealth Legacy Programme) from GBSLEP.

While helping us access advice and funding, the programme has also helped us develop our entire philosophy of our food being ‘free from compromise.’ That means working with like-minded individuals and companies to take our products forward in the way we want to.

From the first cohort of businesses on the ICLP programme, companies like ours have spoken of the value of being part of something bigger and of learning from other members of the business community. By learning and growing together we have been able to face a difficult time and learn not to abandon an ethos you believe in.

The programme has helped 40 small businesses who, between them, employ almost 200 people. The programme specifically aimed to help companies like ours scale up and make the most of trading opportunities.

Joel himself said to us that the biggest issue small businesses face when scaling up their activity is having the right leadership and management capability. Is the right team in place to take the business to the next level? And if not, how can we access the support we need and fill in the gaps?

Joel has a very positive view of the business community across Greater Birmingham and he is a great role model himself. Having him as a role model helped us long before the challenges of this year. I’m just glad we had the practical help and the peer support of the ICLP at this difficult time to help us through.