Times are tough for us all at the moment, but we’re so proud of the way that our members have continued to adapt to keep business support going during the Coronavirus pandemic. Promoting and celebrating the successes of Team NEN is a core part of our mission, so we’re delighted to reveal some of the good news stories our Members have shared with us over the last couple of months.
Let’s Do Business Group – inclusion on the NatWest SE100 Index, and two contract wins!
For the third time, LDBG is celebrating recognition as one of the Top 100 social enterprises in the NatWest SE100 Index 2020, the annual list of the UK’s leading 100 social enterprises. They are also delighted to have won two contracts
The first is a business support contract with Essex County Council. LDBG will provide access to business advice across the county, and help businesses navigate through the current economic challenges. Alongside this, their finance offer (Start Up Loans, Business Growth Loans and CBILS) has been extended into Essex, and the wider East of England area. This follows the successful takeover of the Foundation East loan portfolio. Let’s Do Business Finance now lends across the South East and East of England.
The second contract is funding from the NatWest Back Her Business Campaign. LDBG will roll out another 12 months of support to budding female entrepreneurs in East Sussex and Kent through their HerBiz programme. Now adapted to an online programme, the first cohort is underway in East Sussex.
Colbea – new funding and a new member of the team
Colbea has recently been awarded funding from Colchester Borough Council to help support local businesses affected by COVID-19. The additional subsidy allows more businesses to access fully funded online 1:1 business advice, ensuring Colbea’s Business Advice support can remain at the forefront of their operations during this time, and help businesses prepare for the future.
A breadth of topics are on offer including accessing funding, cashflow, planning for the future, adapting business operations and future strategies. Four Business Advisors are on hand, with the team boosted by the recent appointment of Katherine ‘Frin’ Arnold, who specialises in the creative sector. Colbea sponsor Fisher Jones Greenwood is also offering free legal advice for businesses.
Enterprise Exchange – the first-of-its-kind training programme
Enterprise Exchange has launched a new remote self-employment training programme, which uses augmented reality to enhance learning! The programme can be completed online and via the phone, and can be tailored to provide a bespoke service for those working with the unemployed. The augmented reality features of the business workbook provide innovative access to further training, information, and support videos.
Menta – maximising the potential of live, video content
Like many other members, during lockdown Menta has fully embraced online, and video in particular. To date, three Facebook Live networking events have been held, gaining over 1000 views.
Face to face training has swapped to virtual live workshops, with very positive feedback received on the change of format. Business advice is still readily available, and Business Advisors continue to deal with numerous issues and enquiries. Business and employers have been further supported by a new range of downloadable guides, while some new short videos promoting Menta’s products have been created.
STANTA – lobbying success and client success
Business advice and training courses continue to be delivered by Zoom, and a new social media trainer (a former client) has been secured. STANTA was pleased to see the government provide additional support for businesses in premises not eligible for small business rates relief – an issue they raised with both the Small Business Commissioner at the meeting organised by NEN, and with Hertfordshire County Council.
Several STANTA clients have also celebrated success. One was directed to apply for match funding through the Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund. While another is enjoying an increase in sales of their personalisable mugs – proving to be very popular for use during video calls!
Erewash Partnership Limited – busier than ever before and finding new members!
Erewash Partnership has experienced its busiest time in the Partnership’s 26-year history! Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it has helped more than 200 businesses with constructive advice and support. Phone, video-conferencing, and e-mail advice has been provided to a large range of sectors including manufacturing, retail, small businesses and self-employed workers
Advice has also been given to non-member businesses who have sought out the enterprise agency and asked for advice – which has resulted in several new companies joining the Partnership.
NBSL – supporting a client to pivot
NBSL currently has 147 live projects that are supporting North East businesses, with over 70 from the County Durham area of the region. One of these businesses is TayloredFit – a provider of physiotherapy and craniosacral therapy services, as well as Pilates and Yoga classes. With support from NBSL, they were able to quickly change their business model – recreating their offer online and continue their much-needed support.
TayloredFit had already accessed funding (North East Business Support Fund – administered by NBSL) to update their existing website and were due to launch in March. But with the business based almost entirely on face-to-face contact, ahead of the lockdown they decided to close their doors to minimise risk to staff and their clients.
With continued support from NBSL, who confirmed that their funding could be used to adapt to a new business model, they now offer virtual consultations and pilates membership, and online weekly classes using Facebook groups and video conferencing.