Get Mentoring at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2012
written by Angela Knight on 14/03/2012
The Fourth Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) is meeting in Liverpool this week. The BBA was there yesterday: a team took the early morning GEC Express laid on by Virgin Trains in company with a couple of hundred young entrepreneurs from across the world and one special guest. Sir Richard Branson, GEC keynote speaker, joined the crew.
As the train pulled into Liverpool Lime Street Station, Sir Richard was up front with the driver. As good a photo opportunity as it was for the gaggle of journalists assembled, the scene was a powerful metaphor not lost on those young businessmen and women who'd travelled up the country: one of the most successful and renowned entrepreneurs in world history posed as the literal driving force that had brought them together at an inspirational global congress.
The message that scene sent highlighted how important role models and mentors are to the success of British businesses. Seeing and hearing from those who have got to where you want to be, pushed on through the challenges to reach and reap the rewards, is a fantastic spur to an entrepreneur’s intent. Yesterday’s GEC speakers - from Sir Richard to former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy and former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Michael Heseltine - were unified on that point.
But it’s not only business idols with rock star status like Richard Branson who can and do provide this. The BBA was in Liverpool yesterday to support the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI) in promoting the Get Mentoring initiative: a scheme which will recruit and train thousands of business mentors in the UK from the small, medium and micro business community.
On Monday, the Government’s Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk announced key milestones for Get Mentoring: with 7,500 mentors now on board, the initiative is now halfway to recruiting its target of 15,000 volunteer business mentors. And of those 7,500, over half have already been trained. Once trained, mentors are deployed across a range of mentoring organisations accessible via mentorsme.co.uk, the national web portal that provides a single point of access to mentoring services.
The BBA launched mentorsme.co.uk last summer. The portal provides access to anyone looking for mentoring support as they start or grow their own business. There are now 15,000 mentors available via the site and, since launch, over 500 existing and recently-retired bank employees have been recruited and trained as mentors and partnered with established not-for-profit mentoring organisations; and several hundred businesses have been mentored. That guidance is especially important when it comes to unlocking the personal confidence that is key to unleashing your professional potential. Mentors are a peerless means of encouraging nascent entrepreneurs to take their first step forward.
This year, Lloyds Banking Group is platinum sponsor of the GEC, organised by the Kauffman Foundation. John Maltby, Managing Director of Lloyds TSB Commercial, delivered a presentation on the wide variety of funding available to businesses, before an international panel debated the pluses and minuses associated with sources from personal credit cards to venture capital. This was surely a very useful and informative session for the young entrepreneurs in the audience. But businesses need to be enriched by things other than money if they are to grow and thrive.
I hear that yesterday’s congress delegates enjoyed fitting entertainments from tribute act The BackBeat Beatles, whose second number was Can’t Buy Me Love. Money can’t buy you love, just as no amount of financing from whatever source can add the sort of value that a business mentor’s experience and support can lend to a business. So here’s to the HELP! mentors bring.