Entrepreneurial Outreach

This was initially a one-year pilot of an Entrepreneurial Facilitator working with entrepreneurs in under-represented communities to connect with business support and understand systemic barriers of economic inclusion.

We have been very aware that the mainstream business community and business support activities in the West of England are not fully representative of the communities active in the city region. Engine Shed has partnered with ACH and Barton Hill Settlement to strengthen new and existing businesses from under-represented communities the region and inform the development of existing business support systems in the area.

The aim of the partnership is to strengthen new and existing businesses in the region for the long term. Connecting Engine Shed’s expertise, reputation, and business connections to the communities where ACH and Barton Hill Settlement have already developed a strong and trusted relationship with residents will support a more inclusive business environment for local companies and entrepreneurs.

The one-year pilot was funded by ACH, Engine Shed, the West of England Combined Authority, and the University of Bristol, and started in September 2018 with the appointment of an “Entrepreneurial Facilitator” employed by ACH and trained by ACH, Barton Hill Settlement, Engine Shed, and SETsquared Bristol. We were lucky enough to be able to hire Lydia Samuel into this role. The pilot is the first of a number of projects that the University of Bristol is supporting as part of its commitment to engaging with local communities ahead of the development of the new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.

Unlike most publicly funded schemes, this partnership focuses on the quality and length of relationships, rather than volume. The Entrepreneurial Facilitator supports entrepreneurs and established business owners, initially in the newly arrived communities in Bristol, and the community around Barton Hill – and, most importantly, learns during that process of support, identifies possible solutions to systemic change and disseminates, nudges and evangelises. A form of Action Based Learning.

Our overall objective is to understand the need, and to implement (preferably through others) systemic change in the provision of business support for under-represented communities in our business ecology: challenging existing practice and identifying ways to adapt what already exists, learning through the delivery of practical business support.

Engine Shed is well established within the region’s existing business support ecosystem, and supports the Facilitator in providing coaching, mentoring, and connections into the ecosystem.

ACH is a social enterprise specialising in the resettlement of refugees through labour market and social integration. It provides safe, secure, and comfortable housing combined with culturally sensitive support and employability skills training. ACH’s unique approach focuses on building individuals’ resilience in the labour market, up-skilling, and supporting refugees into sustainable, higher level employment in order to develop their independence and ease their integration into life in the UK.

Barton Hill Settlement provides services, facilities, and community development to Barton Hill and surrounding areas of the inner city and east Bristol. One of the projects Barton Hill operates is BOOST Finance Basic, which offers opportunities for the local community to explore the benefits of having a range of financial advice and support services in one place. BOOST Finance is funded by Bristol City Council as part of the Bristol Impact Fund and will be accessible to those involved in this project.

Engine Shed currently hosts a network of established business support providers and hubs, as well as hosting the world-class SETsquared business incubator, as part of its mission to supporting long-term, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth. This partnership with ACH and Barton Hill Settlement will bring the benefits of this business network to the wider Bristol and Bath economy, by taking the learnings from the project and finding ways to implement such to achieve systemic change.

The 1 year pilot started in September 2018 with funding for one year.

CURRENT STATUS (Nov’19): ACH, Engine Shed and WECA put in enough money to continue the pilot for a further 6months. In October, ACH won funding from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund (in collaboration with the Centre for Entrepreneurs) for a 1 year pilot, which overlaps with this Entrepreneurial Outreach project and allows for additional resource. This has the effect of extending our pilot to September 2020.

Our report on the 1st 12m and how we will approach the next 12m can be found here.